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Stonecollar - "Trial By Fire" (CD)

Stonecollar - "Trial By Fire" CD cover image

"Trial By Fire" track listing:

1. Not For Good
2. Trial By Fire
3. SQT
4. Turn A Blind Eye
5. Poison The Well
6. Say Your Prayers
7. Unnatural Selection
8. ... As The Crow Flies
9. Loose Cannon
10. Dying Breed

Reviewed by on August 1, 2011

"The most frustrating thing is imagining how good these guys would sound with some better hands at the control board."

Despite — or maybe because of — the poor production, there's an appealing bar band quality to Stonecollar's "Trial By Fire." Sure, these South Africans are playing fairly generic hard rock, but it's played with soul and has some moments that reach toward excellence.

Many of those moments come courtesy of lead guitarist Sean Tait, whose solos on tracks like "Say Your Prayers" and "Turn A Blind Eye" momentarily make you forget that the rest of the instruments sound like someone set up a tape recorder in a garage and walked away.

Though his bass-playing is totally obliterated, Leshem Petersen's vocals emerge relatively unscathed. With a style that, quite frankly, feels more American South than South Africa on tracks like "Dying Breed" and "Poison The Well," in which he adds a big helping of blues groove.

Unfortunately, that gets undone by the sound quality issues, as does Bryan Nicol's drumming, which is ultimately reduced to snares and cymbals by the tinny production. With no bottom end, the album ends up feeling a bit gutless.

Soulful vocals and some good guitar work help overcome the poor production on Stonecollar's "Trial By Fire." The most frustrating thing is imagining how good these guys would sound with some better hands at the control board.

Highs: Leshem Petersen's vocals

Lows: Poor, tinny production

Bottom line: An album that could've been great, were it not for some gutless production.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)