by Danny R. Phillips
I’ll admit, I can be a bit of a defeatist, especially when it comes to music.
Turn on any “rock” or “alternative” radio station and you’ll soon feel the crushing ambivalence that surrounds music; it seems that the Holy Trinity of bass, drums, guitar is dying a less than dignified death on the national stage. But, there is hope on the horizon, locally that is.
It is a time of rock’s return to our city. Hurt Russell have released some truly thought provoking music, Ramey Memo just released the best record of their long career, Radkey is doing what they can to take over the world, Scruffy and the Janitors are rockin’ like no other and now, it’s Stoneblind’s turn.
“Devils, Liars and Fools” the band’s latest eight song record, kicks down the door and lays waste to those who claim to be a hard rock band, splitting in the face of the Five Finger Death Punchs of the world. Stoneblind is a band that worships the finer aspects of hard rock’s early days; Jason Osborn, Brent Richards and Nate Bromley (Bromley is a stylistic dead ringer for Black Sabbath great Geezer Butler) are clearly students of the hard rock genre: Led Zeppelin, KISS, Sabbath, Faith No More, UFO, Queen, Anthrax, they’re all spread throughout “Devils,” yet always careful to avoid the tropes of the genre, never giving in to expected cliches or turning into just another butt rock band.
“Devils, Liars and Fools” sounds like my teenage years, my days filled with metal and punk music, hiding from the world, wishing it would all burn down. “Devils” speaks to that kid that still lives somewhere at the back of my mind; the kid that listened to Metallica, Judas Priest, Living Colour, Bad Religion and Fear, all while trying to figure out the songs, hoping to be left alone, waiting for a talent that showed itself in other ways.
“Beaten by the Fool” opens the record with thrusters wide open, phasers set to kill. It’s some good old desert rock for the Heartland; blending the sounds reminiscent of Kyuss, Mountain, Melvins,Thin Lizzy and Blue Cheer while “Jackknife Messiah” melts the paint off the walls like a lost “UltraOmega Ok” Soundgarden track or a Fu Manchu fever dream.
There is a groove that lives throughout “Devils”; a smoldering stomp that creeps up your spine with the rhythm section of Richards and Bromley driving it home, being second locally only to Long and Ellis of The Creeps but its a VERY close contest. It’s like comparing apples to razor blades. Add to that Jason Osborn’s Ozzy and Leslie West leaning vocal delivery and sludged out guitar work than you have a band, especially live, that could be unstoppable on any given night.
“Devils, Liars and Fools” is a slow burn rocker, the kind that grows on you like a parasite, every spin making the record better than it was the listen before, making it one of my favorite records of the year thus far. If you’re tired of drum loops, keyboards and pseudo-soul, then Stoneblind is the band for you.
Damn St. Joe, if you keep this up, we may have a real music scene on our hands. I can’t wait.
by Danny R. Phillips Bethanie Bray is St. Joseph’s finest bartender; I say this as a state…