||STONEWALL NOISE ORCHESTRA
'The Machine, The Devil And The Dope'
UK Release Date: May 20th 2016
Roger Berzerk Fauske
Stonewall Noise Orchestra, if you didn't know, hail from Borlange in Sweden and this one is their fifth studio album. The band itself has been going for a little over ten years so they have been fairly productive.
This one has definitive influences you will pick up but think of it as a melting pot of where rock has left its footprint over the years, give it a good stir and infuse the music with it. As Snicken, the band's guitarist and founder, said: "I have to admit that our new record is based on a – let's call it healthy – dose of egotism; we composed the songs exclusively under the aspect of what we ourselves enjoy most live on stage. We wanted to make a straightforward heavy rock album and that's what it is. Sometimes that's exactly what you need to stay sane in a world that's getting crazier by the day. It's forty minutes of rock therapy."
It all starts off with 'The Fever', great bass line and atmospheric guitars building to the immediately catchy riff as the guys pound it out in earnest. Vocally you will pick up more than a trace of Ozzy but it is no stars in their eyes type imitation, although the tone is evident. The backing riffs running through the track have traces of industrial come grunge coursing through its veins – well I did tell you it was a melting pot. The tail end of the track goes very classic with some well thought out and effective guitar patterns, wailing their way to the song's conclusion.
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'Welcome Home' has a different feel, speeding drums and riffs grabbing you by the neck before the vocal assault and the vocals on this are of a very different nature, no Ozzy-esque tone going on here. The triumph of this one is the guitars, which almost take your head off – in a good way naturally.
'Into The Fire' is one of those tracks that each time you hear it you may pick up something different. There is a lot going on with almost every space filled, without threatening to send the mix into chaos. The early stages have groove and foot tapping rhythm a plenty whilst the guitar at the end will have the rest of your body parts following suit.
'Don't Blame The Demons' is in a way more straightforward, chugging rhythm pulling it all along, a very classic rock feel to it although it doesn't quite kick in to top gear. It is a well written song but to my ears is just missing that boot up the ass that would send it into overdrive.
'Superior #1' is next and again the guitar lights it up, especially the intro and the between vocal fills. Talking of vocals, there is a minimalist but superb vocal melody and pattern running through the verses proving that sometimes less is more. The whole track has a very Scandinavian rock feel to it, which is hardly surprising given their origins and it is not a bad thing – bands from that part of the world can deliver classic rock like no others.
And as if to prove that point the next one up is 'Stone Crazy' and is to my ears anyway the standout track. It is, in a word, immense. A large dose of groove with an infusion of funk brings the track to life, catchy chorus, vocals with attitude as well as melody and cool bass line littering the whole thing with gems. This is what these guys do best and it is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Lyrically it may not be Shakespearian but musically it is right up there with the best of them.
'I The Servant' is again different in feel. The fact it is over seven minutes long is one reason, but it has a lot of atmosphere to it with the Ozzy-esque voice again ploughing its furrow on top.
'On A Program' is another one with a memorable intro, this time guitar and echoing bass seamlessly leading into the track. The initial feel of the vocals in interesting on this one as well, with a folk metal come medieval feel to them before going fully fledged hard rock, definitely down the Sabbath route. Don't let the comparisons detract from the fact that it is very much them and they never let up on the track, pounding and thundering to its end.
So to the closer and also the title track and it is a mix of a little less tempo at the start but with menace and attitude spilling out of its pores. As the lyrics say: "You can run for your life but you'll never escape," and that is the case here but on the good side, you probably won't want to escape.
So that is that. And it is definitely a good album – sure there are elements that you will have heard before on offer but the point is they have put their own slant on it and an impressive slant it is. They have a good thing going and now they have been picked up by SPV, good things should happen. Hopefully the guys will head over to these shores for some live shows soon and I for one will be there – I suggest you follow suit. But in the meantime get hold of the album and rock yourselves silly.
On another note, SNO have definitely made a splash in the drummer name of the year contest.
Vocals - Tony
Guitar - Snicken
Bass – Jonas
Drums – Mr Pillow
Guitar – Mike