Album Review: STONEBIRDS – ‘Time’

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If one were to accurately describe the after-effects of the act of combining the iridescent romanticism of psychedelia and the intense brooding nature of doom-rock then they’d gain an awful lot of credibility upon mentioning Stonebirds, a project which was formed in 2008 and has since proved itself to be a noteworthyaddition to one’s psych-rock spheres of knowledge. Having undergone a few line-up changes the group solidified into a three-piece in 2011, consisting of founding member Fañch on guitars / vocals, Sylvain on bass / vocals and Antoine Delhumeau on drums. The group have released two full-lengths, one split and one EP since their formation and are currently set to release their third studio album, ‘Time’ on 20 October 2017.

Upon listening to the record I was rather impressed as to the concepts they put into their music. From the get-go it oozes ambitious artistry as one notices the album is conceptually bookended by a two-part suite. ‘I’ opens the album and ‘II’ closes it, – the former of which is an atmospherically challenging and brooding listen which showcases maturity spread across the twanging acoustic guitar sounds that begin to permeate the ear-drums. The latter is long, heavy and evidently has little in common with its predecessor thematically although to uncover the pieces of the puzzle one has to dig deeper into the wider breadth  of the tracks firmly enclosed by the two-part bookends. ‘Sacrifice’ is where the electric nature of the group is showcased. One has to admit that even at their heaviest they’re not astoundingly heavy in a musical sense, so if sheer unpolished brutality is what you’re looking for it’s a strong likelihood you won’t be one-hundred percent satisfied as there’s plenty more layers to their oeuvre than the mayhem of rock-group conventionality. ‘Blackened Sky’ was one of my favourites because it’s got a perfect mixture of acoustic-electric dynamics and their sludge-metal influences are nicely balanced with a quasi-psychedelic, brooding ambience. ‘Only Time’ continues the pattern one begins to notice throughout the album but luckily it doesn’t become too stale or overused. Shutter part 1‘ is a totally fresh and unexpected introduction to the group’s electronic tendencies. Oscillating synthesizer drones stacked upon layers of minimalistic guitar themes give the album a much more stripped-back feel. ‘Shutter Part 2′ was a surprise really because yet again it doesn’t bare too many stylistic similarities to the song it is conjoined with. Yes, the songs segue into one another but after that transition you get a much more energetic side of the group in which eight-minutes are wisely utilized for moderately mid-tempo riffs. ‘Animals’ seems to be their most popular individual song so far although one has to admit it seems to work equally as good if not better as an entire album than anything else.

Line-up:
Fañch – guitars / vocals
Sylvain –  bass/vocals
Antoine Delhumeau – drums

Be sure to check out the track below, taken from 2015’s ‘Into The Fog… And The Filthy Air’

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