STONEGRIFF - PROLOGUS MAGICUS (Metal On Metal Records)
(Review by Stefan)
Lethargic rhythms, very low tuned bass and guitar which result in an ultra-heavy sound, emotional vocals highlighting the dark side of life, psychedelic elements… that is what Doom Metal is all about to me. It’s a style of music that can be divided in subgenres like traditional, stoner, death, funeral, drone, death and black doom. I’m simply into Traditional Doom Metal and that’s it, no further question! As heavy as psychedelic rockers Blue Cheer (remember the band’s legendary ‘Summertime Blues’ song?) played during the late 60s, as heavy as Black Sabbath were a bit later on. Both legends are the absolute founders of the global Doom scene and all its branches that emerged in the following decades. So far this little piece of history.
I’m glad and proud to announce the debut album entitled “Prologus Magicus” of Scania, Sweden based Stonegriff. Guitarist Molde and drummer Grand Magnus formed the band in back in 2009. The line up was completed by bassist Rex Nibor and singer Jürgen, unfortunately both guys left the ranks shortly after the release of Stonegriff’s first demo “Epicus Democus” (2010). Roger M. (bass) and new singer Jam entered the ranks to record a second demo called “For Madmen Only” (2011). And again, Stonegriff had to say goodbye to both bassist and singer. Quite a complicated situation but finally, and as the band progressed into a more traditional Doom Metal direction, they found a new frontman named Jacob. To make the story complete, former bassist Rex Nibor rejoined forces with Stonegriff. Would this be the right line-up for the band? I think so!
Third demo/EP "III” saw the light of day in the spring of 2012 and all the expectations were fulfilled. Nothing but very positive feedback from the press and media, the band also played at the oldest Swedish festival named Summer Fest (Sommarfesten). Several labels heard about the band’s great service in the field of Doom Metal, finally the band signed a deal with Metal On Metal Records, and I’m sure that they will not regret this decision. We already got a taste of Stonegriff’s style as they were featured on “Compendium Of Metal Vol. 6” CD released by Metal On Metal Records. Their song ‘Black Snow’ convinced me right away.
Stonegriff’s debut album “Prologus Magicus” means Traditional Doom Metal in the vein of Black Sabbath (Ozzy era), Solstice, Trouble, Krux, Sorcerer, Pentagram and Hour Of 13, among others. In the Doom Metal scene, it's usually not easy to come across something very original. Stonegriff belong to the division of Traditional Doom Metal acts and that feels good to me. This particular type of Doom stands out from the rest because, and on a regular basis, they tend to increase the pace. That’s why I do not like for example Funeral Doom, as the tempos are too monotonous, which bores me personally.
Most frontmen in Doom Metal bands lift up melancholic/psychedelic feel deep down inside because of the passion they breath out while singing. Each singer has a different character and I will immediately mention that Stonegriff’s frontman Jacob is definitely one of a kind. Right away I was convinced we are dealing here with a great musician using his throat in a really impressive way. Such a wide range of vocal delivery, this is rather unusual in the current Doom Metal scene… Jacob is eerie good in everything he does. Staggering screams, an ironclad standard throat and incredible, compelling high pitched vocals are the man’s strongest attributes – what a fantastic singer! By the way, he reminds me, in some ways, of Larry Portelli, the frontman of US Thrash Metal band Blessed Death.
The overall sound of Stonegriff is really heavy and highly concentrated which is expected from a top notch band. Heavy riffs charging at me and I can not resist to pump up the volume of my amplifier to the maximum. Listening to the entire “Prologus Magicus”, I am thrown back in time to late seventies and eighties era. I feel the passion, the determination and a good loyalty among the musicians – all these elements allow me to mention that we are dealing with a fantastic band featuring talented players.
Some definite highlights are: ‘Black Magic Circle’ and its attractive tempo changes and of course the highly acclaimed voice of Jacob. The not too fast – not to slow sounding track ‘Mercenary Bay’ is another successful one. In a mid-tempo mode, Stonegriff showcases Traditional Doom Metal (including a nice guitar solo) as it should be, without shortcomings. ‘Devil’s Daughter’ might be the most unexpected one but what the hell, I like this one as much as I like the remaining tracks. It has a late 70s kinda psychedelic character which feels like a youth sentiment to me. ‘Secrets Of Your Soul’ once again takes me by the throat because of the OUTSTANDING voice of Jacob. Early Black Sabbath/Pentagram/Saint Vitus influences united like a chunk of granite. ‘Impossible’ has a very slow tempo, it's heavy and dark as the blackness of the night, a good piece. During the last song ‘In The World That You Rule’, the pace is kept slow but still the crispy hard riffs and the transcendent voice stick to your soul. You should not expect much musical variation either.
I want to close this review with a real good feeling. Doom Metal is quite a special genre which has always led its own life, right from the start. An authentic kind of Metal music made for dark and heavy souls. Stonegriff’s Traditional Doom Metal is manufactured from the right material, delivered by a bunch of highly skilled musicians. With all respect for the rest of the band, my attention is focused mostly on the band’s vocalist. “Stonegriff: Prologus Magicus” - Order, receive and play at very high volume… Doom ShallRise! Stonegriff Facebook / Metal On Metal Records
My Points: 84 / 100
95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !
Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan
Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it
Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing
Between 60 and 69: Rather moderate
Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard
50- : Rubbish