On Collapse And Fail Stonebirds return with their third album and first on Ripple Music. As we have come to expect from their previous releases we’re treated to a range of influences encompassing some of the great heavyweights of the sludge and post metal scene. Although it seems damning to begin by discussing where they draw their sound from with this release, the clear inspiration Stonebirds have taken from their forebearers is both unashamed and ultimately somewhat successful.
With an opening track that channels both YOB and Cult of Luna before reaching a heavy post-rock euphoric crescendo, the album gets off to a good start with Only God. The first track acts as a microcosm of the whole album, the strengths lie in the more frenetic riffing and the excellent percussion, but when the band slow down and opt for atmosphere over onrushing attack, they struggle to hold this listener’s attention. I am a big post-rock fan, and have never found myself to be lacking in patience for atmospherics, or slow builds, but I do find myself drifting a bit through the slower sections of the record.
Again, second track Stay Clean eschews originality for a headbanging build based around a chugging riff that can get even the grumpiest toes tapping. Bellowed vocals combine with intense percussion and a blackened atmosphere, good fun if you like that sort of thing. Down takes us on a trip towards the Scandinavian post-metal scene, with sparse sections alternating with very familiar riffing over wailed singing. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas’s Mariner has proven to be a much imitated record, with bands such as The Moth Gatherer mining a rich seam of post-rock goodness, however Stonebirds struggle without the intensity provided by the faster tempo of the opening tracks.
Turn Off The Light chases a melodic vocal with a guitar track that is reminiscent of bell ringing from one of the many cathedrals scattered around the Brittany region that Stonebirds call home. A long moody mid section leads back to a sludgey breakdown as the band combine for a heavy slow close. One of the more satisfying moments of the album, Stonebirds crack into a thrashy riff with more catchy percussion and an abrupt end.
Stay Clean eschews originality for a headbanging build based around a chugging riff that can get even the grumpiest toes tapping…
Penultimate track Fade Away chases the post-rock ambience that is my biggest problem with this record, it is an apt title as the song does exactly that and finishes with a sense of drift, rather than a bang. The album then closes with the title track Collapse And Fail. Brooding guitar winds around a martial drum beat for a long build that brings about one of the best moments of the album as the band combine for an excellent sludgey sound, again showing them at their best when hitting hard and fast. Dual vocals are arresting in a way, missing for large sections of the album and show the way towards a more forceful sound that would suit this listener better. An excellent, but brief section of riffing finishes the song and record.
I have found this to be a very strange album and one of a band unsure of what exactly they are trying to accomplish. In some of the heavier more aggressive sections they give the impression of an excellent live sound and translating that energetic feel to the studio, on other occasions, particularly within Down and Fade Away there’s a feeling of missed opportunity and a lack of momentum.
On this, their third release, Stonebirds seem to be a band at the crossroads – there is potential but too much of this album is wasted on brooding moments that failed to engage.
Scribed by: Ian M