It always warms the cockles of my heart to hear of a new stoner rock band from Sweden. It makes me feel like there’s something fundamentally correct about the functioning of the universe and allows me to pretend that it’s still 2002 and smart phones haven’t been invented. Actually, Huanastone have been around since 2012, so I should probably describe them as ‘new-to-me’ rather than actually new, but that doesn’t undermine my basic point. Stoner rock and Sweden, in my imagination at least, go together like heavy riffs and valve amps.
Huanastone are a four-piece hailing from Malmö and Third Stone From The Sun is arguably, and rather confusingly, their second album (their first self-titled record is somewhere between EP and LP length, which perhaps explains the discrepancy). In any event, the band seem to be pretty chuffed to have teamed up with Italian label Argonauta Records for this record, and rightly so: Argonauta have released some of the most interesting stoner rock records of the last few years. Hopefully you caught the album stream here last week, if not then I’d recommend that you check it out – there’s some really good stuff here.
Huanastone‘s description of their sound is refreshingly honest, referencing Kyuss, Black Sabbath and Alice in Chains, which strikes me as a roundabout way of saying classic stoner rock. I’d say that they’re pretty much spot on too as they’ve totally nailed the feel of that first wave of Scandinavian stoner records from the turn of the millennium. Singer Tobias Gonzalez has a smooth voice, somewhat redolent of Josh Homme, that contrasts well with the heavy, fuzzy guitars. Like a a muscle car covered in shiny chrome with a growling V8 underneath the hood or, if you’re less in the mood for tenuous similes, sort of like Greenleaf or perhaps Lowrider.
Viva Los Muertos is a real tone-setter. I’m not sure if the use of Spanish is a deliberate nod back to bands like El Caco and albums like Madre de Dios, but if so it would be entirely appropriate. As noted above, it’s a sound that entirely familiar without sounding overly like anyone in particular. The track itself has a slightly eery, melancholy feel. Bad Blood continues the strong start, bringing a bit more energy and one of those slightly off-kilter rhythmic breakdowns towards the end that would seem entirely at home on an early Lowrider recording.
Third Stone From The Sun is a really strong record and ample proof that even in 2020 you can record old-school stoner rock that’s sounds as fresh and vital as it did back in the day…
One of the things that prevents Third Stone From The Sun being one of those records you enjoy but forget quickly is a handful of really catchy, memorable tracks. The first is Oliver PT 2, which I guess has a sort of grunge-y feel to it, with a quiet verse, backed by bass and drums and a killer chorus which floats above a sea of fuzzy, crunchy guitar. It’s an excellent song that really sticks in your head.
The album takes an unexpected turn midway through, with two slower, more reflective tracks that have a distinct Graveyard flavour. Meaning the band Graveyard, obviously. The title track has something of that melancholy edge and a few more open chords, and the following Carnivore really feels like one of those epic, downbeat, bluesy ballads that the band from Gothenburg specialise in. It’s another cracking tune that really shows off Tobias‘ vocal range.
She’s Always brings things back the more straight forward stoner rock territory and again demonstrates that Huanastone know their way around a chorus. It also shows the band’s lyrical chops, with an interesting tale of a femme fatale, which at least shows a bit more effort than yet another song about weed and Satan. Penultimate track, Neverending, is the third stand-out track on the album and I think it really would have made a fitting closer. From a slightly ropey opening, it builds to a real climax, with soaring vocals and wailing guitar. It could easily sound cheesy, but it’s so well done that it just works.
The final track Le Petit Mort feels a bit redundant after that, even though it’s probably the heaviest track on the album. It’s not terrible, but it’s forgettable and I don’t think the album would have been any the worse had it just been left out. Anyway, that’s not really important: Third Stone From The Sun is a really strong record and ample proof that even in 2020 you can record old-school stoner rock that’s sounds as fresh and vital as it did back in the day.
Scribed by: Liam Blanc