Stone Collar | Trial By Fire

by Erik Tweedy
Staff Writer —

Stone Collar - Trial By FireWhen you think of South Africa, the last thing that probably comes to mind is crunchy melodic hard rock. Hailing from Cape Town South Africa, Stone Collar provides just that, a solid dose of old-school melodic hard rock with a modern touch that sounds fresh, albeit way under produced. Trial By Fire is a self produced and mastered, debut release full of catchy riffs, great vocals and a pounding rhythm section that hard rock fans across the globe will enjoy.

With a cool acoustic intro reminiscent of many of Megadeth’s best tracks, Trial by Fire quickly sets the tone on the opening track, “Not For Good,” with a ripping guitar intro and a snappy drum backing that will have you throwing up the devil horns and whipping your hair around. There are plenty of good influences here, with Maidene-esque soloing throughout and a sound that was very prominent back in the early ‘80s during the invasion of British metal bands lumped into the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) movement. This is a great intro track that will have you harking back to the glory days when you used to have every Tygers of Pan Tang album on vinyl.

Keeping up the tempo, the title track, “Trial By Fire”, is filled with crunchy guitar riffing by guitarists Sean Tait and Clinton Jurgens and a gutty vocal performance by Léshem Petersen. The sound here is so familiar, it will have you digging back through all the vinyl you still have in your parent’s basement to see who these guys compare to.

Heading a bit in the modern direction, “SQT” is a melodic track with a heavy bass line provided by Léshem as he does double duty on every track. The drums throughout this release are very prominent and sound as if they came from the same recording session as Scott Rockenfeld’s drumming on Queenryche’s Operation Mindcrime.

There is a lot to like on Trial By Fire, “Turn a Blind Eye” and “Poison the Well” take you into a modern hard rock direction and “Say Your Prayers” pulls you right back into classic metal. A nice rainy day intro leads into “Unnatural Selection”, a basic track in construction, but a good showcase for Léshem’s vocals. One of the best tracks on Trial By Fire is “As the Crow Flies” with an acoustic driven intro powering a melody that might remind you of Shinedown. With better production, this track could see airplay on American radio.

Rounding out the release are “Loose Cannon” and “Dying Breed”, both tracks filled with plenty of solid riffing and a pounding rhythm section that drives this one home. The music is raw but draws you in all the way to the end and requires you to go back to track one and start all over again.

Clocking in at nearly 60 minutes, Stone Collar have put together a 10-song debut that combines old school British metal with a bit of a modern touch at times. There is plenty to like on this release if you are into early ‘80s Maiden or bands like Virgin Steel and Diamond Head. The only negative about this release is the production. While not terrible, you can easily tell there was a shortage of cash when booking studio time. The bass lines and the bottom end are almost non-existent and the overall sound has a “recorded in the basement” feel to it. The production aside, this is a very worthy release and a great debut for this band. These guys have talent and are working hard to spread their music around the world so check them out on their website and give Trial By Fire a listen. Their sophomore release will definitely be on the watch list for 2012.

Genre: Heavy Metal

Léshem Petersen: Vocals & Bass
Sean Tait: Lead guitar
Clinton Jurgens: Rhythm guitar
Bryan Nicol: Drums

Track Listing:
Not For Good
Trial By Fire
Turn A Blind Eye
Poison The Well
Say Your Prayers
Unnatural Selection
…As the Crow Flies
Loose Cannon
Dying Breed

Label: Self Released


Hardrock Haven rating: 8.2/10

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