Tuesday, 13 August 2013
Stone Magnum - From Time ... To Eternity (album review)
You feel like you've been through an epic journey. You feel like you've been through hell and back. It's a whirlwind circus sideshow of riffs and atmosphere. Guitars swirl and thrash about, the singer gives a balls out performing from start to finish and it's a physically and emotionally exhausting performance at that. And that's just the opening song!
The remainder of the first four songs (what I reckon to be Side A of the record) is more of the same. Epic traditional doom and just about as good as it gets in that regard. Energetic but still moody, I dare say Stone Magnum's brand of doom is accessible to all metal fans, at least those of a certain bent and from a certain era. Let's say, that this album has the potential to appeal to, for sure, any metal fan over the age of 30. Anyway, as far as doom goes, solid epic vocals and music that moves, music that doesn't plod, but still finds time to lurk about in the shadows, is traditional doom alright, the best kind there is. That's just what we get here.
The grammatically dubious "By An Omen I Went" sounds as though it might actually be a lost recording from the 1980's. This song is for the most part a "prop-sword-wielding-muscular-guy-in-fur-lined-loin-cloth" kind of metal moment. This is where the album takes a bit of a turn. Not a bad turn, or a sharp turn where sunglasses left on the dashboard fly out the open passenger side window, but ... well, maybe a U-turn, back in time. It begins to feel like voyeuristically peering into some tight blue jeans and black studded leather jacketed long-hair's bedroom window during the decade of big hair. And though "By An Omen I Went" may use the 'passive voice' for its title, aggression abounds on Side B. This is due largely to the efforts of the heart and soul, clenched fist vocal stylings of Nick Hernandez, whose talent is unleashed to its fullest extent on the latter half of the album.
The first time I heard the album, I thought I might have overblown this "switch" in styles, but I don't believe I have. It's not as though the band decided to cut their record into a "traditional doom" side and an "old school metal" side. But there is a moment on the album where your perception of what the band are doing and what they're all about changes. There's also something of this in the theme of the album title, as we move forward through the album we go back in time and if the album is put on repeat we can see how the front and back of the album meet. Who knows, maybe this is the hidden message behind the album, that maybe many artists no longer innovate but prefer to emulate what they enjoy, to emulate what hooked them into art in the first place, to the point where the new music (and specifically doom) that comes out is now somewhat indistinguishable from that which inspired it. And when you think about it, what's the point of that? Maybe it's all pointless, maybe it's all hopeless, maybe we all ought to just give up ...
You see? True Doom!!!
This is music with an 'old soul' that cries out for action and lashes out with a vengeance. Doom metal is the pop music of horror and Stone Magnum unleash the true doom on listeners. They appear to do this with a minimum of fuss. Sure, the 'effort' is there, but the effects, bells and whistles found in production and recording techniques and long improvisational instrumental passages of other bands are largely absent. Stone Magnum weave an atmosphere all their own and do it with the tools available at hand, like stone age craftsmen, or in this instance, stone age gunmen firing rocks from a Stone Magnum like those from David's sling. Who knows, maybe that's what a Stone Magnum actually is, a slingshot, a giant killer.
Highlights include: "From Time To Eternity" and "And Now the Dawn"
Total Run Time: 48:36
Guitars: Jim Brucks
Guitar: Dean Tavernier
Bass: Ben Elliot
Drums: Brad Toth
Vocals: Nick Hernandez