Review Summary: Your holiday stoner fix.
Four years have lapsed since Croatian band Stonebride unveiled Summon The Waves
to the world. Improving their sonic formulas while adding psychedelic touches too, the album helped cement their reputation as one of the most unpredictable stoner acts at the time. Since then, people have anxiously waited for a follow-up and finally, it saw the light of day right at the end of 2014. Heavy Envelope
is quite the opposite of its predecessor in terms of length and direction. Clocking in at only 32 minutes, it also feels more immediate and easier to digest.
You might think "I've waited four years for half an hour of rock?', yet after a couple of careful listens you'll find yourself realizing it is just enough. Stonebride packed dozens of grooves into shorter tunes that became entire journeys this way. Take for example 'Movies, Movies' or 'Sokushinbutsu': the former is a QOTSA meets Mastodon hybrid, where these guys constantly switch gears and the whole thing sounds like a musical rollercoaster. You get sludgy riffs with lots of variations and solos that all end up with the pile driving coda. Meanwhile, 'Sokushinbutsu' follows a similar direction, going all the way from the militant drum intro to syncopated rhythms, laid back melodic breaks and a slow, doom-like finale. At this point it becomes quite obvious the band has put a lot of time and thought into these tracks as they are some of their best so far.
Luckily, these guys kept some of the lush tones and hazy melodies, occasionally inserting them throughout Heavy Envelope
. Unfortunately, they are rather infrequent compared to Summon The Waves
, however, this isn't necessarily a drag, as they deliver the hard grooves with the same proficiency. 'Lay Low' makes best use of these bipolar constructions, revealing first the bludgeoning main riff, only to fall into a lovely chorus that is the catchiest moment on the record. As usual, the vocals work really well over the riffs and have always been a focal point, even though they tend to let the instruments work their magic more often. Same goes for 'Venomous', the most straightforward song here. It follows similar patterns yet when the slide guitar towards the end kicks in, it takes an unexpected turn. It has that Old West feel and I wish they further expanded that section, to become closer in mood to previous LP closer, 'Silver Ship'. On the other hand, 'Coloured Blue' is the shiniest cut on the album and the one that owes most to Rated R
-era Queens Of The Stone Age. Still, consider it more like a fun tribute rather than a copy of the sound.
I was expecting a great album from these guys, but they have surpassed all expectations. Heavy Envelope
rapidly unfolds at such a short length, still it lures you back for multiple listens. Stonebride are at an all time high and I advise you to purchase this effort, it's well worth the money and time.