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Stoneburner - "Sickness Will Pass" (CD)

Stoneburner - "Sickness Will Pass" CD cover image

"Sickness Will Pass" track listing:

1. Christian's Charity (6:01)
2. Marriage (7:15)
3. Run Boy... (6:41)
4. Elesares (8:38)
5. We Have Failed (5:55)

Reviewed by on June 25, 2012

"Stoneburner lets out a raging first impression with 'Sickness Will Pass.' It’s rough as gravel, yet knows when to open up melodically."

Summertime is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, and most people turn to light, fluffy music to act as a soundtrack for those long days lounging on the beach. Not everybody wants their music to be poppy and bright; darkness always looms in the distance, and Stoneburner’s debut album “Sickness Will Pass” is the cure for sunny days. One listen to “Sickness Will Pass” and the gloom will wash over the day, like a storm cloud blocking the sun’s rays. It’s the anti-summer album, and the season is better for its existence.

A sludgy doom style befits Stoneburner, and the five tracks hit as hard as any band in the genre. The songs are soaked in heaviness, as each riff reverberates and pushes out a stream of forceful distortion waves. “Christian’s Charity” hits the right spot as the opener, displaying the band’s knack for the obstruction of sound and noise. If there’s one mark against this song, as well as the other ones, it’s that all the instruments can descend into a ball of non-discernible static that is difficult to root for.

What isn’t difficult to be a fan of is Stoneburner’s eagerness to push beyond the prototypical sludge/doom mantra. The band could have just done the “loud is the law of the land” decree, but that would have made “Sickness Will Pass” average and obsolete. Instead, the foursome fuses in moody, clean breaks that make sense in the context of each song. “Run Boy...” utilizes this right away, letting smooth drumming and strumming guitars build to an abrasive sonic punishment.

“Sickness Will Pass” is light on the vocals, though Jesse McKinnon (who also doubles as the drummer) has a sharp, raspy bite to his screams. “Marriage” and “Run Boy...” spend half their respective running lengths working up a sweat around instrumental jams, fueling the chaotic second halves that follow. “Elesares” is the longest cut on here, and starts off up-tempo before unraveling as each minute passes to a state of catatonic shock by the time it approaches nine minutes.

Stoneburner lets out a raging first impression with “Sickness Will Pass.” It’s rough as gravel, yet knows when to open up melodically. The nontraditional song structures allows leeway for instrumental doodling, most of which is a tight mood enhancer towards another outburst from McKinnon. The band may be lumped in with other Pacific Northwest acts like Neurosis, but not even that legendary act had the wherewithal to write a debut like “Sickness Will Pass.” It’s a strong start that can only spell great things for Stoneburner, if they continue to evolve in the next few years.

Highs: Heavy as hell, variety in the form of clean breaks, album is well-paced and doesn't overstay its welcome

Lows: Vocals buried deep in the mix, a few parts drag later on in the album

Bottom line: A brusing sludge/doom debut that is the perfect antidote to the dog days of summer.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)