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Stoneside – EP.2 – The Desert Award winner

EP.2 – The Desert
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 23 March 2023, 9:11 AM

From their webpage, STONESIDE is an independent music project based out of rural Texas, focused on bringing into this world the stories of those who have passed from it. The music is as haunting, emotional, raw and beautiful as the stories that it gives voice to; combining elements of a range of genres including Alternative Rock, Prog-Metal, Ambient and Electronic, the genres and song structures are fluid and ever-changing; they are merely a tool of the messenger. “The face of the medium speaking the words of the dead is not important. We are just storytellers. With no identity, no past exists. No future exists. No social class. No stratification. No racism, good or bad. The messenger simply does what he’s told, repeats the words…then he’s gone.”

I discovered this band recently on a SLEEP TOKEN fan Facebook page because many of the members said they were the closest thing to the masked collective from UK. STONESIDE is from Texas, however. Katy, Texas to be exact. You know, the hometown of KING’s X? All that their Bandcamp page says about them is “I speak with the dead. They tell me their stories. I bring their stories to life again in music.” This is the band’s second EP, and it has seven songs. “Cold Dead Hand” is the first. Eerie electronics swirl in the background together with a steady hum. The vocals are ethereal and dreamy. Weighted thuds approach, and then take over, as the vocals climb an octave. The heavy elements retreat, followed by beautiful piano notes, and then with a scream, it takes off once more, and ends with aggressive Djent elements.

The textural elements of the album are amazing. “Hell” has plenty of them. A repeated synth passage carries the early part of the song, as the vocals come in quite unassuming, before being joined by piano, and those weighted Metal chunks are not too far behind. Anger lashes out, more akin to the song title. One thing that I notice when compared to SLEEP TOKEN is that the transitions are more striking, and often don’t come with a warning light. “My Love/My Tomb” is a dichotomy of what it can feel like…on one hand, love is a splendorous thing, but on the other hand, it can feel like death to some who aren’t good with being shackled, or won’t allow themselves to be. Fear can do many strange things to humans. Smooth and whimsical tones are just as present as the punishing ones, highlighting the disunion of the title, which in many ways are inexplicably linked together.

“Cowboy” is another song with a benign entrance. Brief Djent tones drop like a bomb and are gone as quickly as they came. The vocal harmonies are gorgeous, and the band clearly has a design for melody. “Pale Dawn” is about as pretty as anything that I have heard this year. The melodies are so ethereal that they rise in front of you and disappear like a fleeting breeze on a warm day. Let this one soak in slowly, and you will be inflated with its charm and enamor. “Walk on” is the hope that they push in this song. “Apache” is a little sad, in that rainy day sort of feeling. We all like spending rainy days at home with nothing to do…it is refreshing to our souls. But, looking out the window, it still gives you a melancholy feeling. The heavy Djent elements remind you of this. This song changes its mask subtly.

“Suicide Silence” closes the album, and those vocals will leave you breathless. What it’s about is a mystery, but the vocals soar into the heavens above. What a sublime way to end an album. I haven’t felt this good about a band since I discovered SLEEP TOKEN. Although the comparisons are hard not to make, they are also different entities. The feelings that you have when listening to the album are similar, in that they make you feel alive, and give you the courage to face whatever demons you might have in your life. The landscape varies from celestial to downright rage, and you never know what is coming around the corner. In the end, I’m afraid my words just don’t bring justice to how stunning this album really is.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. Cold Dead Hand
2. Hell
3. My Love/My Tomb
4. Cowboy
5. Pale Dawn
6. Apache
7. Suicide Silence
Record Label: Independent


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