Saturday, August 20, 2011

Stone Collar - Trial By Fire

Hailing from South Africa, Stone Collar recently released their debut album, Trial By Fire. As newcomers to the rock and roll arena, I was interested in seeing what Stone Collar could do and which type of sound they would emulate. After the first song, it was obvious.

A progressive rock vibe is all over this album and it is clear that Stone Collar was influenced by some of the top name progressive acts of the modern era. Blending the classic sounds of our favorite progressive rock bands (think Rush, Iron Maiden) with the modern mix of the new class (think Pop Evil, Breaking Benjamin), Stone Collar does a splendid job with their debut release.

Vocalist (and bassist) Leshem Petersen has a magnificent voice that fits the style of Stone Collar’s music perfectly. His voice is the fine delicate wine paired with the band’s intense cheese. The combination is pure bliss. Throughout the record, Petersen shows off his ability and his range. His vocals are a grand compliment to guitarist Sean Tait’s solos and lead guitar work. Together this tandem weaves a wonderful web of modern music.

The guitar work by Sean Tait on songs such as “Say Your Prayers” stands out in a big way. Tait’s guitar skills are first rate and some of the sounds that he creates with the guitar in his hands are sensational. Tait is a natural on the ax and he is provided plenty of opportunities to show off his chops on this record. Strong, well structured solos pull the songs together beautifully. And when Tait gets the opportunity to unleash his full arsenal on certain songs, look out! The effect the solo has on the listener is intense!

On Trial By Fire, Stone Collar really saved their best for last. The final track, “Dying Breed” is a real treat for the ears. Tait shows off his best work on the album and his solo is one for the ages. All the raw power that the band contains really shines in this last song. Starting with some superb guitar work by Tait and rolling into hardcore drumming, “Dying Breed” takes off immediately. When Petersen comes in on his vocals, it almost sounds like I am listening to a Blaze Baley sung Iron Maiden tune (and I mean that as the highest form of a compliment that can be paid). Why Stone Collar didn’t open the album with this song, well, I’ll never know. As a closer, though, “Dying Breed” definitely leaves us screaming for more.

At times, Trial By Fire can be a little sluggish and repetitive, which takes away from the overall enjoyment of the record. That being stated, this is still a solid album worthy of exploration and dedication. If you are looking for a new band to sink your teeth into, or you want to hear some intense new progressive hard rock, then Stone Collar’s Trial By Fire is an album that you should check out.

Notable Tracks: SQT, …As The Crow Flies, Dying Breed

Ryo’s Rating: 7.5 (out of 10)

Track Listing
Not For Good
Trail By Fire
Turn A Blind Eye
Poison The Well
Say Your Prayers
Unnatural Selection
…As The Crow Flies
Loose Cannon
Dying Breed

No comments: