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Diverse death/doom - 82%

doomgrind, February 2nd, 2008

Stone Wings play a style of death/doom metal that, at a glance, may look like My Dying Bride-esque romantic death doom, with their romantic, eloquent lyrics and heavy use of keyboard instruments, though this isn't the case. The music present on Bird of Stone Wings has that Winter-style misanthropic edge to it and just enough romanticism to balance it out.

A lot of the aggression in the music is delivered through the vocals; no matter what the pace or mood of the music is throughout the album, the growled vocals have a harsh, bark-like aggressive quality to them that conveys the lyrics in a misanthropic death/doom style. The riffs are made up of a lot of heavy, crunching straight chords, semi-tremolo picked strumming and chugs forming the rhythm with little flurries of double bass and simple four step snare-and-bass patterns that form the raw yet melodic style of death/doom Stone Wings excel at creating. The melody of the music on Bird of Stone Wings is aided, if not created, by melodic clean guitars lilting over and sometimes augmenting the crunchier, more complex guitar work, as well as pleasingly subtle backing synths, keyboard choirs and murky keyboard tinkling that reminds me of the beautiful bushland of the band's home, the Blue Mountains. The band also manages to incorporate faster, drum driven breaks and neo-traditional metal solos into some of their songs, giving the music a slightly traditional vibe which sounds great in the death/doom context.

The mood and atmosphere of the music couldn't be described as depressing or sad, apart from the epic, funeral doom title track. There are a fair few mellower, melancholic parts consisting of clean guitars and melodic keyboard instruments throughout the album, but mostly the musical atmosphere is one of hateful aggression, demonstrated by the relentless opening of 'Ulcer Man' or dreamy romanticism and fantasy centred around tales of dream and longing, such as the ethereal mellowness of 'By Hell or Highwater' and sometimes even a well-done combination of both, like the aggressive synth-choir driven passages of 'The Last Hand'.

Bird of Stone Wings is a quality piece of death/doom metal played by a great Aussie metal band well worth listening to. Whether you like melodic doom metal, aggressive, misanthropic death/doom an atmospheric, romanticized aural journey, or modern doom metal with traditional elements, doom fans will find something to enjoy here.