After being sent what seems like a lot of black metal lately (I still have yet to figure out why...), I am finally getting a chance to check out what the world of hard rock has to offer this year. Coming from the UK, Stone Kings packs a hard rock punch to the jaw with a slight metal under cut that mostly contains stoner rock and subtle doom touches. This band is jumping out into a sea of countless acts who play a similar style of music. Some groups are able to standout by having great songwriting skills and a truly heavy recording sound, while others drown in the waters of boring repetitious sounding hard rock that calls itself doom or stoner rock. Call it want you want, but if it does not sound engaging and interesting, I am not buying it!
Now, Stone Kings has twelve tracks on their full-length release, “From Creation to Devastation,” so you get plenty of opportunities to check out what these dudes have to offer. In my opinion, bands similar to Stone Kings that I have reviewed tend to write the same sounding tracks over and over again to where the entire album is pretty much based off of the same riff. There were a few songs I felt sounded repetitive, but overall you get a fair amount of unique sounding tracks.
The album opens with the distortion blasting instrumental track, “Creation,” that also contains this mellow vibe at times. It sort of reminded me of old Alice in Chains where you have that balance between heavy and soothing. Song number two, “Far Out,” has a very basic sound, but is written in a catchy manner. Again, I hear a lot of nineties hard rock influence, especially in the vocal delivery. The band sounds tight during the song and the guitar solo added a nice little kick. Track three, “Head Shot,” builds up with a crushing drum and guitar section that I quite enjoyed. The lyrical content and chorus section were a bit lack luster, but the guitar riff helped boost the song’s energy with a fierce tone. “Out Cast,” the following track, uses that strange vocal effect that sounds like the singer is singing through a megaphone. Honestly, the song was just a continuation of what you heard on the previous song.
I think track five, “Krokodil,” was where the band really got me tapping my foot to the bluesy hard rock/doom sound. The guitar player throws in a mean sounding solo of note ripping aggression. As I stated earlier, you get a little more than just the same type of tracks on this release and song number six, “Time Out,” is without question the one that I think stands out the most. The song features an acoustic guitar riff mixed with a more solemn and melancholy vibe. Powerful lyrical content also provides a deep message for listeners to take away. The next track, “Full Throttle,” returns straight back to the more grooving hard rock sound. Two tracks that also caught my attention towards the end were, “In My Place,” and the thunderous instrumental outro, “Devastation.” Both well written songs that contain these explosive moments of tire slashing riffs and glass shattering cymbal hits.
Overall, Stone Kings maintains a strong identity throughout this album, even if the music wasn’t exactly clicking with me. I did find moments where the music was not anything new to my ears, but I will acknowledge that there are tracks which help push this band towards the front of the modern hard rock line. For hard rock standards these guys are not bad, however, I think there is more to be done and if they keep pouring their hearts and souls into recording more music, who knows what they might be capable of doing? I will say that the talent is there and this release is definitely worth checking out.
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