Sunday, November 4, 2012

... ESTONER "The Stump Will Rise" -album review-

Russia and its neighbouring countries are rife with Psychedelic and Stoner acts, so Estoner from - indeed, Talinn in Estonia should not come across as exotic, the less so if you listen to their generic brand of riff-heavy rock that harks back more to the Nineties than the Seventies.

The band has been independent so far, but "The Stump Will Rise" is able to compete throughout, as the production just sounds greatly natural and the songwriting is quite decent. More or less standardized genre tunes like "Greenseeker" and "Darth Vader Has A Hangover" (dig these lyrics) are an exception, since all in all, Estoner display some creativity when it comes to composition. The hovering "Meet The Abyss" with its playful riffs leads us onto the wrong track, for example: Halfway through, we are confronted with an almost brutal uptempo outburst and screaming vocals that delve into Sludge territory. Such gestures get repeated in "Level 5 Wizard", an obvious nod not so much to role-playing nerdism but to the Brits from Electric Wizard.

The most "retro" sounding song is "LSD Vampyr", probably the hit of the album if we had to pinpoint one. The reverb-laden voice of frontman Corey, who nevertheless enunciates his lyrics clearly, doesn't sound very remarkable, but the group as a whole is deft enough to write memorable melodies that carry the songs when the singing doesn't. The hypnotic "Stump" exemplifies this best. With "Mindweasels" in the end, a ten minute epic (with several seconds of silence till it clocks in), the combo indulges in haunting soundscapes and woeful melodies, but keeps back an all-encompassing hook in favour of a slow build-up without structural repetitions. There are several main motifs, all equally infectious, and with a charismatic singer, this would be an absolute standout track for any band.

As it is, Estoner remain a slightly above average scene band: not innovative, yet doing what they like without much calculation, the latter being manifest in a type of songwriting which is not always compelling. Go support them nevertheless, for there's some beautiful moments to be had with their music, and who knows what may come in the near future from the East?

words by Andreas Schiffmann

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