Sweden is known for being a veritable breeding ground for melodic heavy metal, whether you’re looking for black metal, death metal, or even folk/viking metal. StoneDivision, one of the country’s newest bands, carry on the tradition of marrying melody with the crunch of heavy metal, although taking a bit of a more modern rock approach to the genre.
The first thing that really jumps out at you about Six Indifferent Places, StoneDivision’s debut full length, is that any song on the record could easily become a number one single on any modern rock radio station, or any music channel that has a rock program. The guitar work is full of groove, crunch, and tons of melody. At times I’m reminded of Rammstein, particularly on the opening track. The rest of the time, however, the guitars (and LOADS of electronic processing) take on a bit of an American metalcore vibe, in the vein of All That Remains or Killswitch Engage. There’s some lead guitar work that made me do a double take, Torn being an excellent example. Tommy Mattson certainly knows his way around a 6-string. Vocally, Oskar Gronberg sounds like a mix between Benjamin Burnley and Chester Bennington, of Breaking Benjamin and Linkin Park respectively. The vocals are very clear, and Oskar has a very melodic vocal style, with a bit of grit as well. At time he also throws in some harsher vocals, employing a more mid-ranged metalcore yell. I say yell because it’s not quite a growl, but a little too low-pitched to be a scream. The bass guitar and the drums aren’t overly flashy, but they keep the pace moving and provide most of the punch on the low end; thereare some moments that I definitely want to throw the horns up and bob my head along to the beat.
About the 8th track in, The Unkown, the listener is treated to the mandatory power ballad that seems to be on every modern rock album. All of the elements are there, acoustic guitars, crooned (and somewhat nasally) vocals, a string section, and build up into distorted guitars while the chorus is repeated. And therein lies the problem with the overall record. While all of the instruments are executed perfectly, and you couldn’t ask for a better mixing, it’s the songs themselves that fall just a tad short of being classic. Everything is a bit predictable, with a lot of the riffs having an air of over-familiarity to them, and a vocal stylethat, while well executed, is a bit overdone in this particular type of metal. Call it groove, call it nu-metal, post-grunge, modern rock, whatever you want, it’s been done.
While fans of this genre will find a lot to like, and there’s definitely some killer riffing going on, it just doesn’t stand out to me that much. The execution of the material is flawless, but I just don’t feel challenged as a listener. Having said that, if you just want some tunes to throw on in the car and speed to while chugging your favorite energy drink, Six Indifferent Places will certainly do in a pinch.
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