For the first two and a half minutes of this album you could well be fooled into thinking that Terra Mama is going to be the greatest slab of stoner rock since Kyuss hung up their flares. As the pleasing drone of guitar that is The Rising morphs into the chugging guitar riff that introduces Heavy Stone, you think about heaving your head back and forth on your scrawny neck if only you had more hair. So far so good – but then, it all goes a bit wrong.
To explain exactly why is actually pretty hard. Stone Sole River, like all good stoners, draw heavily on the rock sounds of the ’70s. So it goes without saying that there are huge riffs aplenty, and that psychedelia spins in and out of songs like a giant tie-dyed Iron Butterfly. There are also solos that would have the average teenager with a mullet and a Maiden t-shirt cutting shapes with a tennis racquet within seconds.
There are great dollops of Sabbath, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd all over this record, and normally this would be no bad thing, but there is something about this record that irritates and at times, drags. Whether it’s the cheeky borrowing of lyrics from In A Gadda Da Vida (House Burning Down), and guitar lines from Dark Side Of The Moon, it’s hard to say.
Maybe it’s that this record sounds like you should be hearing it in a squat in sun drenched L.A., in 1974, tripping your head off, and wishing you’d stayed off the brown acid. Maybe hearing this kind of thing totally straight in the middle of winter in gloomy Britain 2006 just doesn’t work.
It’s more likely however that this is a very sincere sounding record. There is little doubt that the musicianship is fantastic (the sprawling 10 minute Tannhauser Gate is enough to prove that alone), but it just fails to connect at gut level. Black Sabbath might have been very dour musically, but those riffs could move mountains. Stone Sole River on the other hand appear to be going through the motions.
It’s something of a shame, because Terra Mama has plenty of nice touches, and is full to the brim with ideas. If they could focus themselves, and work out how to build on their influences rather than content themselves with emulating their heroes, then Stone Sole River could be worth another look. On the other hand, if you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m 13, I’ve got a mullet, a Maiden T-shirt and a tennis racquet” then get this record – and stay off the brown acid.