Brighton born 4 piece, Stone Circle, have been toiling away for the best part of ten years, and all that toil has led to the release of their second album, which shares the same name as these prog/death journeymen.
With a few sterling live efforts over the summer, it seems someone has raised their game, let’s hope their latest album, which is free in the current issue of Terrorizer by the way, can match the gauntlet set by their strong live game.
Imagine this scenario if you will. Gojira, Opeth, Mastodon and Katatonia are having a car key party, you know, the kind of car key party that swinging middle-aged couples have. Anyway, some of them got careless with contraception, and the resulting “mishaps” are Stone Circle, all in a figurative sense of course. Anyway, I apologize for the far out analogy, but that’s pretty much the jist of the bands sound, and 99% of the time, it’s also on par with those aforementioned bands, kind of caught me off guard if I’m honest.
The album kicks of with a monster that goes by the name of ‘Beekeeper’. This monster I speak of, is one of gargantuan presence and has left an almighty level of devastation in its wake, although some might say that it wears a mask which somewhat resembles Opeth. This may be true in some aspects, well, quite a lot actually, but with a slight Gojira chug added for extra flavour. This isn’t a bad thing, quite the opposite really, especially when executed so well. A treat which begins to set them apart from an overwhelming sea of progesque bands that have popped up lately.
The album loosely follows the foundations set by Beekeeper throughout, but the band have a habit of throwing in a curve ball when needed. There hits a point where you get these ambient peeks, and it’s atop these peeks here the magic happens. ‘Sentinel’ is just such an example. Throughout the first two thirds, it’s that heavy formula I mentioned earlier, then all of a sudden, you’re whisked off to a more gentle place. This place has a faint aroma of post rock, and it rears its kind face on more than one occasion, a soft landing from an otherwise jagged environment. Which in it becomes a lot more diverse in nature, as you delve deeper into this Pandora’s Box.
The album is a loveable collection of brutal lows and majestic highs, and one that people really need to have in their lives. The aptly named ‘Final Thought’ is where the band hit that final gear though. The final song is the perfect exclamation point to sign off on this journey. It’s a pummeling surge of emotion and power that makes sure that this album ended the way it started; kicking, screaming and on fire.
I found this album aged like a fine wine, as it took a few listens to fully grasp the magnitude. But once you get there, you appreciate all the little subtleties which sets this apart from the common rabble.
Stone Circle have definitely stuck gold here, I’m not ashamed to admit that perhaps initially, I wasn’t too sold on the album. But it’s a grower, and once it latches on, it shows no remorse, no mercy.Trust me, that’s a good thing.