Lava Flows is one of those encounters which grabs rigorously, cuts off all forms of escape and in turn plies you with intoxicating persuasion which leaves you woozy and desperate for more. The heavy weight groove fest is the debut album from Greek metallers Stone Cold Dead, a band entangling the richest essences of groove and heavy metal with those of experimental and alternative rock. The result is a virulent form of predatory rock ‘n’ roll which leaves a thick greed for more as ripe as the outright enjoyment experienced from its thrilling introduction to a band destined to great heights.
Stone Cold Dead is the brainchild of former Rotting Christ and Nightfall guitarist George Bokos, a project which is not so much a solo adventure but one luring the talent of equally experienced and innovative guests. The Athens hailing Stone Cold Dead gave a potent hint of the quickly impressing sound fuelling the album a few short weeks back with the release of the single Hubrism, a teaser which awoke intrigue and anticipation with ease band now proven to be just the one facet of a triumphant beast.
The first inescapable seduction of the album comes through the union of Bokos’ glorious baritone guitar enticement with that of Charis Pazaroulas’ (ex-Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra) irresistible bowed contrabass temptation. Both aspects are a theatre of invention and controlled rabidity, of creative attitude and expression colluding to create bestial stomps of fierce rock ‘n’ roll with an unrelenting appetite to devour and incite ears and imagination. That ingenuity alone makes Lava Flows a must investigation but add the majestic and fearsome rhythmic bait bullying and igniting the senses throughout , and you have a proposition which is pure metal alchemy. Split into three sections; Stone, Cold, and Dead, which “unfolds along the Cosmic Tree, which connects three different realities”, Bokos has given the three tracks in each part to a trio of exceptional drummers to drive, twist, and elevate the nature and personality of each movement within the album. Yannis Stavropoulos takes the first section, to be followed by Dimitrios (Vorskaath) Dorian, the multi-instrumentalist behind Zemial, and Nile drummer George Kollias respectively. It is an aspect to the release that just adds further formidable drama to the provocative journey of the album, a potency which makes more of a thrilling impact than was definitely expected.
The album opens with Climbing The Cave and straight away it is prowling ears with sonic craft as a rhythmic rumble builds into an anthemic addiction. As becomes the diverse mouth-watering norm across the release, riffs nag and gnaw on the senses as quickly enslaving vocals and the jungle of beats from Stavropoulos descend to seduce and ravage the body. Like a mix of Bloodsimple, Killing Joke, and Black Tusk, the track swings its bait whilst drilling deeper in to the psyche with every torrent of rabid riffs and web of insatiable grooving. It is probably right to say our passions were hooked from this point, a submission ensured by the contrabass seducing of Pazaroulas but only confirmed time and time again across Lava Flows starting with Cyclone Speaking.
Instantly the second song is more bestial in the tone of guitar and bass, and strolling with an antagonistic gait soon drawing in melodically enflamed roars of sound and voice. Rhythmically things are another maze to explore and be willingly trapped by as the melodic tenacity of Bokos flirts and explores new designs and instincts within the bruising rock ‘n’ roll climate. As with its predecessor, swift submission and a lusty reaction from body and thoughts are given, a success found again by the album’s title track. Lava Flows, as its title suggests, smoulders and crawls from its first breath but around an already keen burst of rhythms which provide the spark for a subsequent sludge bred swagger as volatile in energy and hunger as it is immersive in weight and ambience. Pazaroulas again bewitches with his bow on strings whilst Bokos and Stavropoulos entrance as they turn limbs and neck muscles into their puppets.
An apt colder steely hue flows through the album’s Cold section, Death Drive preying on ears with increasing intensity and energy as a punk ‘n’ roll attitude and irritability runs through the song’s pulsating veins. The craft of Dorian has a more rock ‘n’ roll energy and swing to its attack which is translated in the sound around it, that in turn creating another strain of alternative and groove metal united in stoner-esque toxicity to grip ears.
Both The Black Snake and Hubrism transfix with their individual invention and natures, the first emerging on a tribalistic, mystique clad trespass breeding a caustically flamed swing of riffs and incendiary grooves. The perpetual niggling quality of both continues to make the juiciest irresistible bait matched by vocals, rhythms, and that contrabass and bass ingenuity, manna throughout the album. Here it creates an emprise of colourful melodic and sonic mystique within a net of addictive creative voracity whilst its successor is a more sinister and disentangled weave of voices and atmospheric intimidation crowded by a great irritant of waspish grooves and robustly dynamic rhythms. Once more songwriting and sound infests and twists the listener this way and that with startling invention and imagination, and though many elements are familiar there is no doubting they are employed and evolved into something rabidly fresh and unique to Stone Cold Dead.
The exceptional Deconstructing The Architect is the first offering in the Dead segment of the adventure, Kollias sculpting a wonderfully intrusive and anthemically invigorating wall of rhythms as the guitars open up their own net of inimitable and irrepressible imagination and craft. The body becoming a puppet to the strings of band and album is nothing new at this point but certainly strung out and sent into their biggest frenzy yet as the song builds into its Torche meets Mastodon meets Trepalium emprise of sound and temptation.
A shamanic scent opens up with the entrance of Umbilical Cord next, the guitar again spinning a sultry and exotic coaxing before the track erupts into its muscularly predacious and erosive glory, which itself is never absent of unpredictable and smouldering flavours from distant shoes and cultures. The track, as all, simply engrosses and thrills, a tempting emulated in the closing extensive exploration of And The Tree Becomes A Sphere, a travelogue of sound and inspiring hues in its own right that has ears and thoughts as enslaved as the emotions amidst a massive greed for more.
Lava Flows is real heavy groove woven magnificence for the ears, and even if others find themselves to be not quite as lustful in reactions as we found ourselves to be, Stone Cold Dead are still a big reward all should give themselves a chance of getting excited over.
Lava Flows is out now via digitally and on CD via Volcanic Music @ http://stone-cold-dead.bandcamp.com
Pete RingMaster 10/11/2015
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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