8Stone epitomise the musical dilemma of the thirty-something musician. Raised on grunge and yet caught on the cusp of the recent revival of thrash metal, the musical climate is once more akin to that of the early nineties with bands torn between melody and power. 8stone, however, with a list of influences ranging from Alice in chains to Megadeth have set out to highlight the fact that the two genres are not mutually exclusive no matter what various sniffy purists might have to say. Contrary to the hyperbolic assertions of the mainstream press, grunge didn’t ‘kill’ metal – indeed it could quite happily have sat alongside it as bands such as Alice in chains so aptly demonstrated – rather metal underwent a commercial decline because the press hounds, who love nothing so much as division (and derision) between genres artificially created a war between the two, otherwise complimentary, genres. Fast forward twenty odd years and with anniversaries cropping up for a number of established grunge and metal acts, those divisions look rather silly, and 8stone have carved out a brutal 4 track EP (five if one counts the brief intro) to highlight the influence of both grunge and thrash on the current crop of musicians.
Opening with the ‘perfect defect’, a short introduction to the record, ‘the rules’ introduces the band’s sound with howling feedback and Johan Zimmerdahl’s towering percussive work. You can hear the megadeth influence (think ‘countdown to extinction’) in the riffs, but the vocals are closer to the melodic trappings of Layne Stayley and Scott Weiland than Dave Mustaine’s duck-like rasp. It’s a strong, crisp sound that 8Stone favour, the guitars neatly divided between Fredrik Akerblom’s taut rhythm work and Jocke Kullenberg’s sweeping leads whilst the vocals are powerfully and memorably melodic, marking 8 stone as being different from the pack. Better still is ‘break them bones’, a track that opens with the unusual resonance of the didgeridoo before plunging headlong into a fast-paced riff-fest that gives the neck muscles a stiff work out. In contrast ‘Forever and a day’ is a strangely breezy number that steps into latter-day Green day territory (think ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ and you’ll have a good idea of the sound and melody here) and in fairness it does not work as well in the context of this short EP, the stylistic leap somewhat jarring, particularly following such a crushing number. As if the band no that ‘forever and a day’ was a weak moment, ‘no evidence found’ is another full-blooded effort complete with brutal riffs, vocal harmonies and solid chorus recalling Black Label Society with its pedal-to-the-metal approach.
Overall ‘they can’t kill us all’ is a fine introduction to a band who offer plenty of promise. ‘Forever and a day’ is a miss-step – whilst the band’s trademark melodies are to the fore, it is simply a step too far away from the raw power of songs like ‘break them bones’ and ‘no evidence found’ and it sounds, in comparison, disappointingly generic. It’s not by any means a terrible song, it simply does not live up to the high standards set elsewhere on the EP. That said, for those looking for taught, melodic, heavy rock, 8stone deliver with power and precision and there is no doubt that given time and space to expand on their full length they will continue to impress. A worthy start, then, ‘they can’t kill us all’ is certainly worth checking out.