Metal To Infinity

Ireland isn’t exactly the place where new Heavy Metal breed is bursting out of the highlands, but now and then we must agree that we had a pleasant feeling during a new exploration of unknown talent (so far). Sandstone might be well known in their home country, but I guess that it was primarily in the underground scene. Besides this matter, we all know that Ireland had a huge economic step back during the last months of 2011, which resulted in a difficult period for all inhabitants of this Republic. 

“Cultural Dissonance” is the first album that I hear from this band, although it’s already their third output. Their predecessor album “Purging The Past” was nominated as one of the best albums to come out of Ireland for years, by mister Heavy Metal itself: Bruce Dickinson. Who are we to argue such an expert and talented musician? This empirical fact paved the path into conquering many Irish Metal hearts!   

As their previous albums gained an excellent name and reputation, it was pretty clear that the band was focused to do even better on the new output! With this said and done, we can start by telling that the musical escapades are more than average! The song structures are, at some moments, from a very high level, but vocalist and one of the founding members David McBay misses some extra power to lift the band to a higher level, chiefly when he’s in a repeating chorus mode. At some moments I had to think on Europe’s ‘Seven Doors Hotel’, as the vocals resemble a little bit to a very young Joey Tempest. Anyway, the vocal parts are okay, nothing more nothing less. Musical wise, we get much more on this third album. Guitarplayer Stevie McLaughlin was also a founding member of Sandstone and together with his brother Dave McLaughlin on bass guitar, they became a solid line up. A suitable drummer was found, as Paddy Flemming completed the line up around 2003, but he’s replaced by Dan Lafford recently.  

As said before, I haven’t heard their debut ‘Tides Of Opinion’, nor ‘Purging The Past’, so the opener ‘Reckless Though’ was my first introduction to Sandstone. The second one ‘Litle Forgeries’ has a much heavier guitar sound, so this track pleases me much more.  Variety isn’t a problem at all, as track 4 (Leaning on An Arrow), has a much more melodic approach, just like closing track ‘Trick Of Mind’. There are also ‘feel-good’ melodies present like the track ‘No More’ as an appetizer for the heavier track ‘Fading’. All in all, we can conclude that Sandstone is a potential band that is still on a reconnoitering way, with a lot of great times ahead.  

So far, they succeeded in creating an album with a lot of variety, musical fun and a kind of safe trip. As this is their third album, I would expect a little bit extra, but I guess that they are limited because of insufficient skills of vocalist Sean McBay. I will keep my eyes wide open for the next output, and hope that the songs will be worked out in function with the vocal abilities, and that they will go beyond the present pediatric disease. 

My rating: 75/100 (Review by Patrick De Sloover)