Thursday, 29 May 2014

Stoneburner - Life Drawing (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 15/4/2014
Label : Neurot Recordings

Life Drawing, track listing :

1). Some Can 05:38
2). Caged Bird 10:20
3). Drift 01:29
4). An Apology to a Friend in Need 08:04
5). Pales New Eyes 10:36
6). Giver of Birth 01:08
7). Done 07:36
8). You Are the Worst 03:47
9). The Phoenix 17:53

Bio :

STONEBURNER is one of the mainstays of the Portland, Oregon underground scene. Formed in early 2008, the bands’ familial roots reach back twenty years. Drummer Jesse McKinnon (ex-Buried Blood) and guitarist Jason Depew (Buried At Sea) have rocked together in many incarnations. Their other bands had similarly earth-choked names (a stone burner is a subterranean weapon from the novel Dune), but it gets even more incestuous — Jesse went to school with bassist Damon (Heathen Shrine) Kelly’s step-mother. Years later, Jesse’s father would be Damon’s high school government teacher. Today most of the band shares a house and a musical outlet for their worldly frustrations.

To describe Stoneburner’s music one need only look to the list of bands with whom they’ve shared the stage: Yob, Sleep, EYEHATEGOD, Neurosis, Buzzov-en, Weedeater, Saint Vitus, Watain, Tragedy, Noothgrush, Graves At Sea, Lord Dying, Drop Dead, Whitehorse, Wind Hand, Bastard Noise and etc. It’s all about domination through amplification and soul-cleansing catharsis. Stoneburner does not put on airs for anyone. The shows are not "rituals". According to guitarist Eli Boland, playing in Stoneburner “…takes care of the thing inside us that would otherwise lead to serial murder. It cleanses my soul, eases my demons, and fills my heart in a way that keeps me high for a good long while.”

Life Drawing is the band’s second album and third overall release following closely in the tradition of 2012’s Sickness Will Pass (Seventh Rule). All players are the same and Damon has now had ample time to gel with the band. Once again the tracking was done at Haywire under producer Fester “the fifth Burner’s” watchful ear and red-rimmed eyes. The same mastering engineer and cover artist were similarly re-employed. What’s new is the Neurot logo on the spine and a handful of close friends on guest vocals including: Benjamin Caragol (Burials/Hang the Old Year), Joshua Greene (Bastard Feast, Ephemeros), and Krysta Martinez (Transient/Landmine Marathon).

Two difficult years have passed. A basement provided the outlet. The band considers it therapy. The fruition is Life Drawing

The Band :

Elijah Boland | Guitar
Jason Depew | Guitar
Damon Kelly | Bass/Vox
Jesse McKinnon | Drums/Vox

Review :

It’s a sunny and warm day here in Dayton, OH.  The type of day that one might dig into classic rock vibes or something upbeat and funky, but not this fella.  Today I have the privilege of giving you a break down on Portland, Oregon’s Stoneburner and their follow up to the 2012 release “Sickness Will Pass”. aptly titled “Life Drawing”.

While as of late Portland is more associated with Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein, don’t be fooled into thinking that there aren’t some fantastic doom jams there to destroy, ‘the hipster at Starbucks day.’

Feedback rips open the record into the opening track “Some Can” before smashing you in the face with a wall of fuzz and grime. There is no shortage of gloomy riffs on display here and whilst not typical for the genre, some excellent licks too.  The release has moments of pure psychedelia, doom & sludge.  Influences such as Eyehategod, Neurosis, Mastodon & Yob all have a place here, whilst still retaining something unique for the genre itself.

The bass guitar certainly has much more presence in my opinion than most doom/sludge bands these days and there is vibe of Geezer Butler present on the record, which you can’t be mad about?    The track “Caged Bird” is a prime example of this.

“Pale New Eyes” is a standout track and presents every layer of how this record sounds,
Heavy, slow, brooding and at times beautifully creepy.   With tracks varying in time length from 5-17 minutes on average, you have to immerse yourself in this record to truly get the feel of it but do yourself the favour, sit down and really take this release in.  

If you’re fan of sludge/doom, then you will definitely find something appealing on this record.  With repeated listens, like I have this past week, there is always something new to enjoy.

Words by : Stephen T. Barton

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