CD Review: Life Drawing – Stoneburner

Life Drawing by Stoneburner is bold and complex, fearless and freaking heavy.

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Review by David Feltman

Even when dabbling in the peppier mid-tempos, there’s something undeniably sludgy in Stoneburner’s style. The band’s sophomore effort, Life Drawing, never brakes to the excruciatingly protracted speeds of bands like Neurosis or Harvey Milk, opting instead for the groovy southern jams of bands like Eyehategod and High on Fire. But Stoneburner stands apart by juxtaposing warm, fuzzy guitar tones with raspy barks and bleak atmospheric tangents that create an overall chilling effect.

Stoneburner’s experiments and playful compositions are fascinating and often creepy. The eight-minute “An Apology to a Friend in Need” begins with a head banging pulse but suddenly tapers off into a halting, reverb-addled interlude before finding its way back to the crushingly heavy riffs. The track never regains full speed after the odd bit of noodling, instead getting slower and heavier as it winds down in a sort of self-flagellation for its momentary weakness. This isn’t the half-baked sci-fi silliness of typical sludge/stoner fare; this is an album brimming with strife and pain.

The album is preoccupied with the concept of rebirth, second chances and the ultimate futility of striving to be a better person. Stoneburner doesn’t see a lot of hope for happy endings and bright futures. There’s a torrent of personal feelings swirling through Life Drawing, making the music all the more absorbing. The album is bold and complex, fearless and freaking heavy. This is thinking man’s metal.

You can find more about Stoneburner on Facebook and on the official website.