Sydney based 3 piece group ‘The Violet Stones’ have an interesting album in the wings and it’s loaded with grungey-alternative throwbacks from the best of the 90’s and a modern swing towards heavier influences.
‘Sheets of Denial’ is an early standout track and instantly reminded me of Veruca Salt. Big thick guitars which fill out really well with power chords, the drums sound awesome and weighty…not super crisp and processed but rather full and ‘classic’. There’s this curious drum roll in the song that should not work..but does…and each time it comes around I’m just really entertained that they did it! The vocals are suited perfectly, Sarah stays pretty close to the middle lane, doesn’t reach high or try to show off, also doesn’t over power the group and the layering here is used to good effect. Very reminiscent of the old ways, recording only what you could reasonably perform live. There’s room for harmonies and shouts, group vocals and all manner of stuff…but they don’t need it. I imagine these cats could very effectively pull this off live in every respect.
I must mention that throughout the album bass is an active and interesting element that gets a solid mid-hi-range punch to cut through the mix. It’s a small thing.. but to hear the bass players runs, movements and little hammer-ons…its just great!
‘Power Hungry’ is another attention grabbing track with it’s quirky and playful lead line suggesting a more light hearted track, but nope. Chorus is enormous and dark, riffs and of-time jams hit in the bridge and again it’s just a massive. ‘Kill Me’ mixes up the vocals a bit adding a great mood shift in the chorus which stood out, the drums get a bit busier and darker tones begin to seethe through. This is easily where ‘The Violet Stones’ are at their strongest, bringing a grunge song to a more metal filter and painting it dark. It’s executed really really well!
Special mention goes out to the track ‘Shark’ sounding like a Nirvana outtake. It’s quite rare that a band will fly so close to the sun and not get burned…but somehow they did it. It’s un-ashamedly Bleach-era Kurt influence…and I’m all for it. This was fun.
On the downside, PIN is an ‘inconsistent’ album. It had me scratching my head one minute, hitting the skip button only to then be met with a banger nodding my head and grinning ear to ear the next minute. Since I never review material I don’t genuinely like, be sure that this is not lip-service. It just would have been a significantly stronger album if it was shorter. Not every song here needed to be included. Overall there’s a lot to enjoy throughout the 14 tracks. It’s committed to it’s intent: a modern take on late 90’s alt/grunge rock and the sounds are spot on. The song writing is similarly hitting the mark and for anyone who’s looking for a band with a strong female vocalist that ISN’T chasing the ‘Paramore-Tonight Alive’ model…get on this.
The album drops Dec 11 through Chambersite Records: