Stoneburner are a band that are always going to have unneeded pressure placed upon them because of family connections. Their bassist and vocalist Damon Kelly is the son of sludge mastermind Scott (of Neurosis if you live under a rock) and so is likely to be judged from the opening note.
However, it’s unlikely Stoneburner will have a hard time proving themselves, with a debut that defies genre conventions and deviates from the norm. The band have already opened for everyone from Tragedy to Watain which shows the wide appeal their music can gather.
‘Sickness Will Pass’ is a heavily layered affair which primarily focuses on blending moments of calm with chaos. This is present in opener ‘Christian’s Charity’ particularly, going from Buzzov-en’s most crushing to Mastodon’s most thought out.
Early Mastodon appears to be a big influence on Stoneburner and certain sections of ‘Sickness Will Pass’ could be forgiven for something off ‘Remission’ or ‘Leviathan.’ However, the band doesn’t stick to one style for too long and trying to pin them down to one sub-genre is near impossible.
The only real element which connects the band to any sub-genre is the gut wrenching screams of Damon Kelly and Jesse McKinnion which are typical of sludge. Apart from this, only the odd blues drenched riff connect Stoneburner’s music within any classification.
The band’s choice to dive in to the musical deep end has made this effort an enjoyable challenge. Upon first listen, numbers such as ‘Meditative State’ may seem a little bewildering but like all good music by the fourth or fifth listen, all those musical layers begin to meld together.
Another undeniable highlight which demonstrates the band’s powerful song-writing abilities is ‘Marriage.’ After some devastatingly heavy riffing, an OM esque moment of tranquillity creeps in and sends the song in a completely different direction. This style has been tried by many bands but only few pull it off and luckily for Stoneburner it appears to be one of their biggest strengths.
Things rarely reach anything past mid-paced on ‘Sickness Will Pass’ and the album can be described as a meditative journey as much as a metal album. The only exception is ‘Elesares’ which has a punishing guitar line that speeds things up somewhat before locking back in to a sinister groove.
Stoneburner’s slowest moments where they truly shine and at times do nod to early Neurosis. ‘Run Boy…’ is the band at their most sluggish and the minimalistic nature of the song makes it all the more addictive.
Minimalism is a recurring theme on this opus but ‘Sickness…’ is far from a dumbed down affair, with each song carrying an impressive range of ideas. It is obvious that Stoneburner’s musical tastes stretch far beyond the limitations of metal and it’s impressive that they can pack so many different influences in to one opus.
Stoneburner have started their legacy with a powerful offering that can appeal to everyone from basement dwelling hipsters to sludge fanatics. Go check them out.
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Scribed by: Alex Varley