Wednesday 24 May 2017

RIFF REWIND: (24/05/2012): Stoneburner - 'Sickness Will Pass'

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.
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.
Upon receiving their debut album “Sickness Will Pass”, I remember being absolutely  blown away and had heard nothing like at the time.  Life Drawing” (review here) their second album would follow in 2014 via Neurot Recordings, however today we’re going to rewind back through The Sludgelord archives to this day 5 years ago (24/5/2012) and give you guys another opportunity to check out, what I believed to be at the time, one of the albums of the year in 2012.  Make up your own mind by checking it out for yourselves below.   
The Bio was pinched from here  

By: Aaron Pickford

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/5/2012
Label: Seventh Rule

‘Sickness Will Pass’ is an ugly, visceral and truly terrifying beast of an album. It sounds monumental and is herculean in scale and is the benchmark of which all future releases this year will be judged.  It is quite possibly the ultimate sludge metal album of the year.  I urge you to buy this album, you will not be disappointed.

‘Sickness Will Pass’ DD//LP track listing:

1). Christian’s Charity 6:00
2). Marriage 7:15
3). Run Boy... 6:40
4). Elesares 8:38
5). We Have Failed 5:55

Stoneburner is:

Jesse McKinnon | Drums, vocals
Damon Kelly | Bass, vocals
Elijah Boland | Guitars
Jason Depew | Guitars

The Review:

Have you ever seen the movie Hellraiser, the excellent British horror movie?  The premise of the movie is about a puzzle box, which can open a portal to a realm of new carnal pleasures. Instead, it opens up a portal to the realm of the "Cenobites," who take people as prisoners and subject them to extreme, sadomasochistic torture.  ‘Sickness Will Pass’ reminds me of that movie, because this record is that puzzle box and once you push ‘start’, the listener is subjected to an explorative cerebral experience so extreme that it transcends the boundary between pain and pleasure.  The record is like an atomic weapon, with the desired effect being an explosion of music, intent on destroying all that stands in its path; to the very core of the earth. 

‘Christian’s Charity’ is a ferocious opening, the colossus that is the opening burst of sound is like a sonic boom, an explosion to the senses, with a public health warning decree from the band to ‘Please, make yourself scarce’? The song is incredible, sitting somewhere between the sound of Yob and ‘Remission’ era, Mastodon.  It is a song of unparalleled density, the riffs are beautifully disgusting, and it is as if the band is intent on turning the thumbscrew, until you surrender.  In truth this song and indeed the album feel like a torture test, begging the question.  Is this a puzzle box you wish to open?  Despite the pummelling riffs, discordant bass and the gut spewingly psychotic  Djinn like vocals, the song is layered with variety too, but remains volatile and savagely malignant, until a minute from the end when they tone things down to a moment of acid fused psychedelia.

‘Marriage’ begins with an almost processed chugging guitar riff, perhaps enhanced by the use of flanger? You can hear the two guitars in unison.   Then we’re back to the heaviness of the scarifying riffs, this is certainly not a marriage made in heaven.  Essentially an instrumental track, showcasing the awesome musicianship of the band, the song is structured around the opening riff, with slight variations, until around 2:30, when things are slowed down to that trippy post metal psychedelic breakdown, with clean sliding notes from bass and guitar, then we’re back to black bile spewing vocals and the booming sickening din of the riffs, till we’re back to the opening riff, further augmented by an unorthodox almost C.O.C lead guitar with squealing pinched harmonics.  ‘Run Boy’... starts with the fade in of drums, leading into a two minute grooving instrumental passage, Neurosis esque in tone, and then you’re hit like a fist in the face by the prerequisite pummelling riffs; based around a terrifying chord progression of which Mike Scheidt would be proud, this track for all intents and purposes is another instrumental track.  The listener’s ears are then lacerated by the piercing sound of a ‘March Of The Fire Ants’ type riff in tone, at 4:40 the vocals are back in with vehement fury and then we’re subjected to a further barrage of filth.  The final 2 minutes of the song, engages the kill switch , with loathsome revulsive intent and begs the questions, ‘Do you ask the Djinn for a wish to end this torture’? 

If you’ve chosen to continue, ‘Elesares’ is up next and the penultimate noisome, offensive to the point of arousing disgust, it’s 8:36 of virulent toxicity, with a predominant thrash like galloped riff for much of the song, interchanged with a slow sludgy dirge, it is another startling example of consummate sardonic perfection.  The track feels like a game from the Saw movie, trapping the listener to test their will or resolve to live through physical or psychological torture, with the reward being your life. 

‘We have Failed’ is the final lysergic acid test, with the band seemingly intent on inducing the derangement of your personality, before your return to normal social functioning.  If you thought that the track was going to ease off the vituperation, then think again.  The track is as abhorrent as the first note of the album.  It is possibly the most intricate song on the album, opening with an exchange of heavy chords, hammer offs, slides and deafening chord progressions, it is a measure of the band that they remain inventive till the end. At 1:43 they slow things down again to an eerie, almost horror movie inspired soundscape.  Then for the last decisive minutes of the record, the band end things with one final sneering and derisive outpouring of morally objectionable dirt.  The sickness has passed.

‘Sickness Will Pass’ is an ugly, visceral and truly terrifying beast of an album. It sounds monumental and is herculean in scale and is the benchmark of which all future releases this year will be judged.  It is quite possibly the ultimate sludge metal album of the year.  I urge you to buy this album, you will not be disappointed.

Band info: Bandcamp | Facebook