Self release [Release Date: 24.05.13]
Ottawa’s Suns of Stone are a classic rock band with bluesy influences. They cross over from Bad Company at their best to The Black Crows, with occasional Purple influences that extend beyond the familiar title of the self penned ‘Stormbringer’.
There’s a variety of influences ranging from melodic classic rock to rock blues and occasional traces of southern rock, on a self titled debut album that is an honest and mostly successful attempt at finding their own style within the 70’s classic rock genre.
The task they set themselves is as obvious as it is difficult, in trying to cut an album that fuses the past with the present and produces material recognisable as their own. They sure give it their best shot, with some stonking classic rock and in vocalist Alan Charlton they have a singer with the range and presence to fill what is left of the rock radio airwaves.
The band teeters on the brink of hard rock, but constantly pulls back from a total engagement, mainly because of the consistent quality of their melodies and big grooves that refuse to become bogged down in sludgy arrangements.
Listen for example, to the penultimate track ‘For Some Reason’, which is a hard rock classic in the making, full of pounding rhythms, a great vocal and echoes of Rush, circa ‘Snakes & Arrows’. The problem is it never quite believes in its own potential destiny. It’s still a great track by a band that has much to bring to the contemporary rock scene.
Alan Charlton delivers a tough vocal on the opening ‘Hold On Me’ and he’s even better on the staccato rhythms of the bone crunching ‘Rise Up’. Jimmy King adds a scorching solo on a song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Sammy Hagar ‘Chicken Foot’ album. ‘Stormbringer’ is another fine song with a strong melodic hook that will surely give the band a chance of some deserved airplay.
There’s a slight change of direction on the southern rock influenced ‘Sudden Dollar’, which starts out as a guitar heavy, distant cousin of Skynyrd and then suddenly changes tempo to usher in a hypnotic chanted vocal and a wah-wah inflected solo over a thumping bass line
Charlton stars again on the melodic chorus of the Aerosmith influenced ‘Talking To Me’, while ‘A Little More’ is slow burner that kicks in with repeated plays. It’s a compact, guitar led groove on which the bass player Andrew Erlandson and drummer Alex Scott provide the whip crack rhythm to rack up the tension, before Scott cuts through with dirt toned melodic solo.
This is a well produced album full of several great vocals, insistent riffs, sparkling solos and a vibrant core and all that’s missing is a defining anthem to make it memorable
‘Down The Road’ finds the band musically cruising down the highway and evoking the song title, as King adds stellar guitar and Charlton growls out the vocal. ‘Sun Don’t Shine’ is full of jangling guitars and a fat sounding bass, as Charlton adds an early Ozzy vocal, before a snappy country tinged guitar break.
The band slips through the gears over some staccato rhythms before a blazing solo full of beautifully warped notes and a return to the original groove, great stuff. The album finishes with the southern tinged rock ballad ‘Piece Of Mind’ which almost provides an anthemic finish to a great album, but lacks a climactic resolution.
Each repeated play of ‘Suns Of Stone’ draws you in and breathes fresh life and spirit into old school classic rock. It’s an album that I will frequently return to and unhesitatingly recommend to classic rock fans. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 July.. In the first hour David pays tribute to the blues/rock guitarist Peter Green.
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