This will be my third review of the Steven Archer project Stoneburner. I’m lucky to be in close contact with Steven who is a bit of a pioneer not just in music and art but also in his interaction with fans. When it comes to allowing you an inside glimpse behind the curtain of his artistic process and an active effort to engage with thoughts and questions he sets the standard. As someone who has followed closely the releases of this project I continued to be impressed by the way each offering reveals a new head of this hydra breathing a new kind of energy. Red in Tooth and Claw does this with a rolling thunder of napalm. In parallel to April’s release Massdriver , this EP follows the story of a world destroyer. This time taking the form of an enormous rampaging wolf.
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This record gets back to the core concept of industrial sound for me. It is heavy breathing machinery powerful and hydraulic. I feel the struggle of two clashing forces. The rampaging fiery beast, and the indomitable will of the modern world. Building sounds and textures on top of each and releasing the tension at that essential moment are trademarks of Stoneburner. I feel the fresh element here is how clean and isolated each of those parts are as they fit into the world that was created. Instead of a blending buzzing chaos, here my ear is drawn to shining aspects, only pulling back to see the whole picture in revealing moments of power. It is music that sounds like my mind would process data.
Red in Tooth and Claw – Open with the teeth and meat. That’s just what this EP does. The creature stalks forward, slow and deliberate. Waiting for the moment to charge. Stevens vocals ring with a clarity until those slashing claws of distortion crush down on concrete and feel the crumbling buildings give way beneath their weight. Just like an attacking animal the onslaught is furious and abrupt drawing back to view the damage.
The Wolf World – Here the beast is running fast, closing the distance, in full flight or fight mode. You can feel the muscles, and sinew expanding and contracting. The wind rushing through fur. The hunger on the breath. The vocals build in chanting cadence with the pounding guitar in a Psalm 69 feel. Unbridled aggression and boundless freedom.
And All Things End – Here the heavy breath of post battle. I see a broken field of bones and ruin. A chance to observe the destruction of a world and the birth of a new one. The simple but powerful beat change really changes the tone and matches the vocals with a more melodic and introspective quality.
My Love is Never Ending – I love the change up to a dance beat feel. Again taking ideas and sounds which are familiar in old school industrial. Just taking that armor plating and giving it spikes and flamethrowers. This song has what i think of as night driving power. That song you put on when you are rolling down Woodwood avenue in Detroit at 1am with the window down feeling the wind hit your face. It’s a drastic break from the other songs on the EP and one that adds a needed contrast. Something to sharpen the other edges.
I’m Not Done – Who is the Alpha? What is made of cloth?
How do you say you’re sorry?
And there’s nothing to be afraid of
This is a cover of Swedish band Fever Ray off their self titled record from 2009. It’s a powerful closer where the drums have an intricate use of sounds that hold melody beyond the percussion. Steven uses a seldom heard vocal style with an almost Peter Gabriel quality. For this in spite of being a cover it ended up being such a powerful track for me.
In closing Stoneburner continues to find a way to make me more of a fan with every release I hear. This is no small feat. At the rate Steven is putting out art and music the true fear is stagnation. So far I see nothing but a boundless energy to charge in new directions at full steam. I feel envious whenever I hear a new Stoneburner release because it seems to never feel like the last offering was enough. Always reading, researching, refining, growing, that hunger inside Steven to find a new story and a better way to feel it never gets quenched. As long as that keeps being true, I will keep telling you that you need to buy this record. You need to buy this record.