Stoneghost - New Age of Old Ways
One hell of a début album
London metallers Stoneghost have released their début album New Age of Old Ways to widespread praise. Here are 10 tracks of burning fury that are battering down the doors of potential new fans, demanding their attention and stealing their beer in the process. But this is an album which was once on the verge of fading into nothingness before it was even released.
“I was having a kid [at the time of writing the album] and I couldn't cope with it, I didn’t think I would be able to carry on with the band,” reflects Jason Smith, the venomous vocalist at the front of the wrecking crew. After some serious decision making, the intention was laid out for New Age of Old Ways to be the band’s suicide note, every drop of emotion, passion and anger bleeding onto the page.
As a collection of songs, it threatens to bring out your inner masochist, such is the pummelling these songs give you. Like a louse from the woodwork it crawls out for adventure, impending chaos palpable in the air. Lead single Faceless Ghost is a viscous piece of music that whetted our appetites for the full length, alongside Devil’s Motion which was given away as a free download on the Metal Hammer site. The opening duo of the record, they race out of the blocks with Pantera fashioned grooves combining with blood curdled vocals to create a wall of sound akin to the likes of Machine Head or a slightly slower, but equally as devastating Lamb of God.
But there was always that lingering fear that they’d released the strongest two tracks in the hopes of tantalising us, only for the product as a whole to fall short. Those fears are now dead and buried along with the idea of this record being an epitaph. Instead, we are staring into the eyes of one the the UK’s most promising new metal bands.
Underpinned by rapid fire drumming, hardcore-tinged barraging guitars and slower, never less powerful sections that draw more on the Melvins and Mastodon strands of their DNA, New Age of Old Ways keeps its crosshair pointed at your jugular throughout.
Second To Breathe is full of some fantastic vocal hooks. They wrestle with breakdowns and skull-rattling riffs where every note is placed purposefully for a killer impact, it all just comes across sounding so mean.
A storm of full speed thrash guitars and a downpour of double bass opens up The Sound Remains. It’s an absolute monster of a track. But, with Pantera references again here in full, fervent flow yet sounding authentic all the while, the riff work, swinging, hammer blow grooves and innate sense of fun that follow suit are what leaves the most impactful impression.
Sleeper meanwhile, is a slightly more brooding affair. That is until the quietness contorts, its lit fuse finally giving way to overdriven down-tuned chords which avalanche on top of the still lamenting and distressed chordal melody that marked the opening few passages.
Your Trigger, My Finger gets your foot stomping with its spitting aggression and Let Sleeping Beasts Lie comes across like the lovechild of Black Label Society and Baroness, making the sure the album doesn’t go down quietly.
Amongst a rich wealth of thrash orientated bands – although their ear for grooves and melodious dexterity sees them as more multi-faceted than strictly that – they place their début offering right out there with some of the best.
Words: Phil Weller