Album review: CRIMSON STONE – Crimson Stone

Crimson Stone - Crimson Stone

La Choza De Doe [Release date 07.06.15]

Which came first the chicken or the egg?  Put it another way, do bands like Crimson Stone try to fit a pre-existing musical mould?

Crimson Stone show just enough imagination within a huge wall of sound to suggest that their music is organic and adventurous enough forge their own style. It’s a close call though, as their self titled album fights hard to go beyond the pre-existing boundaries of heavy-duty stoner rock.

And if stoner rock is the rock generation’s DIY answer to punk – a can-do spirit aligned with relentless energy and volume – then Crimson Stone should be part of the club. However their self titled album needs to do more than merely celebrate an existing style that has already moved on.

They top and tail their album cleverly with the dense stoner rock and riff heavy groove of ‘Revelations of Cain’. The guitar driven intro suggests all manner of possibilities, but they settle for a mid-tempo, sludgy intensity that is finally resolved on the closing ‘Earthless Ball’. The uplifting harmony guitars and a long fade out gives us plenty of time to absorb what has gone before.

Hailing from Las Palmas,Spain, the band features the growled out vocals of Eduardo Salazar, Ignacio González’s fuzz guitar and heavy doomy riffs and the crunching rhythm section of drummer Emilio González and bassist Luis Henríquez.

They set their sights on the heavy pummelling rock which evokes early Sabbath. They sound like a heavy reconfigured version of Deep Purple on ‘Stoner Knight’, while ‘Chango Loco’ adds lashing of wah-wah and a belated tempo change to hammer home their point,

There’s a relentless quality to the band, anchored by a mix of doom metal and stoner rock, tempered by elements of psychedelia and heavy blues figures. They are keen to layer their music with new elements, but the 11 engaging tracks just fall short of nailing a linear progression.

Crimson Stone push their riff driven wall of sound to the limit, but never quite distance themselves from fitting a pre-existing mould.

The guitars explore different tonal colours and a semblance of restraint and effective dynamics on ‘Pessimist Boogie’.  And there’s a further layered avalanche of guitars and a tempo change before they return to the heavy riffed opening.

Crimson Stone’s music is so heavy and redolent of a heavy metal metaphor that you could almost plough a field with it. A left field drone delivers earth shattering music with disguised melodies, albeit they club us over the head with fuzz guitar and concussive riffs to make their point.

‘Goddess of Thunder’ nearly drowns under its own weight and is topped by a red-raw vocal that could be a manic Edgar Broughton. ‘Nowhere’ tries to inject some extra energy into set, but in spite of an incendiary wah-wah solo it can’t escape the shadow of its own leaden drone. And therein lies the problem, as the band relies too heavily on a repeated wall of sound, heavy duty riffs, pounding beats and primal vocals and becomes trapped by its own self imposed musical boundaries

The evocatively titled ‘Rocker Blues’ fails to bring variety to the sequencing, mainly because of Salazar’s limited vocal range. He is strong on the mid-tempo sludgy stuff, but he struggles to make an impact beyond the surfeit of dragging tempos. And that’s a shame, as this is a band capable of dredging up elementary primal sounds but they don’t quite know what to do with them.

The extended ‘Overlook’ is the best example of the band’s ambitious potential. A wiry Hendrixy guitar line presides over doom metal sludge to build the heaviest groove on the album, complete with psychedelic edges and plenty of echo and reverb.

It’s an enveloping muscular track with an angst ridden vocal and a surprising mid-number drop-down, subtly shaped by drummer Emilio González, who brings an unexpected sense of cool and percussive intricacy as the band stretch out. But there’s no escaping a return to a bone crunching stomp, topped by an Ozzy Osbourne style vocal before an ethereal finish.

‘Crimson Stone’ nail their colours to the mast of stoner rock, but there’s enough shifting dynamics and fleetingly explored musical elements on this album to suggest they are capable of much more ***½ 

Review by Pete Feenstra

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