Review Summary: A promising beginning for a band that went away too quickly.
After the Spinal Tap-esque implosion of Justin Hawking in 2006, from sex, drugs and rock n' roll becoming a bit too much for him, he decided to leave The Darkness, effectively putting the band on ice. After Justin's brother, Dan, recieved the news, he phoned up the replacement bassist of Frankie, Richie, and asked him if he wanted to sing in a new band with the Dan and Ed. And this is how Stone Gods came to be. In hindsight it's a shame to see such a promising band go to waste. Before the reunion of the Darkness in 2011, Justin was doing Hot Leg, a sound very similar to The Darkness, while Dan and co. were making something a little bit different with Stone Gods; their sound was a little edgier, more serious.
The bands debut album, Silver Spoons & Broken Bones, has all the obvious hallmarks of classic rock like AC/DC and Deep Purple buried in its bones, but Stone Gods opt for a sound closer to metal than rock. The opening track "Burn the Witch" starts off with a heavy grooving rock riff, but soon goes into a crescendo of grooving metal breakdowns and rappid thrash speed before its closing seconds. Its one that, at the time, held a nice surprise for those expecting a similar sound to what The Darkness brought you. And the album is littered in different styles rapped up in the bands core sound; "Don't Drink the Water" has a fast paced rock tempo for the majority of the song, before randomly slamming an upbeat reggae riff in there for good measure; or "Defend of Die" which throws in melodic guitar solos and a doom metal breakdown with a psychedelic build up for the closing section. It's strange and quite exciting, even after all these years of hearing it, and something that keeps you on your toes throughout.
But, as exciting as these elements are, it doesn't make for a very cohesive experience. While Dan's signature guitar tones are at the forefront of the bands sound, and it has a firm grip on a fast tempoed, metal sound, it just has too many styles and ideas floating around to keep it consistent. The aformentioned tracks hold that Stone Gods sound, but songs like "You Brought A Knife To A Gunfight" is straight up rock n' roll, and while the acoustic twangs of "Magdalen Street" and "Lazy Bones" are nice tracks in their own right, they just feel out of place and break momentum. Another issue with the album soon arises, as it begins to overstay its welcome: at 13 tracks, the LP could have been brought down to 10 tracks, and it would have helped the tone problem a lot.
It's hard not to like this album overall, though. Richie does a great job as a vocalist and brings all manner of catchy vocal hooks and melodies to every song on the album. And despite the tone being all over the place, every song -- with the exceptions of "Wasting Time" and "Making it Hard", for being a little dull -- is great fun. "Knight of the Living Dead" is a definite standout that collects all the best bits of the albums sound, and would have made a great closer for the album.
For a debut, this is a really solid effort, and a real shame the band called it a day. Though its rumoured the band recorded a second album, it might never see the light of day. The Darkness aren't as relevant as they were at the start of the millenium, and since their reunion, they haven't really made anything as interesting as their first two records, making the hiatus of this band all the more frustrating. If you're a fan of Dan's guitar work, or want an album that's a little different, this is well worth checking out. It's also worth mentioning that if you hated The Darkness, this also might surprise you.
Worth checking out.