Stonekind - Spirit of the Void
There have been a few Guitar/Drum duos from the highly successful such as the White Stripes and The Black Keys to the strictly cult such as Telekinetic Yeti whom before imploding in a storm of infighting managed to release instant doom classic and a much sought-after collectible album Abominable
Finding themselves in this category is North Carolina band Stonekind. Formed in 2016 and having a self-titled, self-released E.P. under their belts they dispensed with their bass player and forged ahead as a duo consisting off Davis Templeton (Guitars) and Jeff Ayers Jr (Drums and Vocals). Templeton pulls double duty on debut album Spirit of the Void adding bass on almost all tracks. So, it remains too been seen if they continue as duo or revert to a power trio.
The album itself is again self-released and available via Bandcamp. Starting of with a chilled laid-back instrumental Ashes Pt.1 all phased acoustic guitars and, in the pocket drumming it serves as an extended introduction to the first real track Ashes Pt.2
It is clear from the start that the vocals of Ayers Jr are strong and melodic and the fact that the drumming is far from straightforward makes this an impressive start. Singing Drummers being rarer than hens’ teeth in this type of music. Off top of my head the only one I recall is Dan Beehler from second division metal heads Exciter.
Stonekind combine bluesy riffing and grooves that leans towards the Grunge end of the spectrum and the solos of Templeton recall Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready at his most rocking. The title track Spirit of the Void is a prime example of this approach and is a calling card for the overall sound of the album.
This is not to say the album is a mere Seattle influenced descendant but there are definitely sprinkles of the sound throughout. This is not under any circumstances a bad thing. The Guitars twist and turn in unexpected ways and the drums push the songs forward., however having played together for five years has instilled an enough confidence in the playing that it in itself becomes its own individual entity.
There are curve-balls with mid album instrumental Dust has a flavor of pastel folksiness and serves as a palate cleanser before a seamless Segway in to Behold the Stone that sways and rolls along to a rhythm bursting with groove.
Nomadic clocking in at 9.02 is Epic by the standards of the rest of the album and allows the band time and space to move around freely and cover a lot of ground. Moving from out and out rock to quieter more psych moments and back. It is a fitting finale to the album.
……except it isn’t.
Included here is a unique experience in a track called Spirit of the Void (Gapless) which is exactly what it says. The album presented as one track. In an age of personalized playlists this invites the listener to fully commit and engage and digest this body of work in one sitting. It is a nice touch and is to be applauded.
Overall Stonekind have delivered an album of Classic Rock with a hard edge without falling into the trap of heaviness for the sake of heaviness. They know exactly what they are doing. Keeping the songs short, focused and economic. The choruses are big with a capital B and the Riffs land the right side of fuzz driven. They never loose sight of what serves the songs best and execute this with a confidence and enough class to impress.
Another contender for Debut of the Year? Possibly.
A Great, Solid Rock Album? Definitely.