Friday, 4 May 2012

#158 Owl - Stone Loner

The rather awesomely named Owl are another band from the San Francisco Bay-Area, and share a drummer with Hazzard's Cure, who I reviewed in the past. It's not usual for me to review something with such a short running time, but I'm quite impressed by how it sounds, and feel I can probably write a few things about it if I put my mind to it. I wasn't sure what to refer to this EP as, as I've seen it in some places as "The Owl EP" and in others as "Stone Loner". I've gone with the latter, as that's what the cover art proclaims it as.

What owl do is combine influences from late 70's and early 80's heavy metal bands, with plenty of Sabbath and Iron Maiden styled material, and to this very retro sound and add to the mix a thicker, slightly stoner-metal feel which works wonders for the musics distinctiveness . The band manage to sound very organic, with a sound which could quite credibly be a long-lost recording from back in the day, with production values and a musical style which really captures the spirit of those times. A lot of the music is, of course, very much modelled on the style of early heavy-metal, there are enough divergences to keep the EP interesting, for instance at the beginning of the closing minute of the title track, there are occasional slow, somewhat atmospheric sections which take a different path from the traditional riffing, and promote the band into the ranks of originality - there's definitely more to the band than being a "worship" act, which is pleasing, but at the same time, the strong, traditional influences make the two songs a fun listen. The opening riff from "Feaster From the Stars" for example is a fantastically catchy section, which is well written and has a really enjoyable tone. I expect it to be stuck in my head for quite some time.

 The vocals have a lot of energy and presence, without being over the top - Vocals aren't my strong point knowledge wise, but they definitely have a bit of a Paul Di'Anno sound to them, but with a more stoner-metal, perhaps even stoner-rock sound to them. The production is pleasantly natural sounding, especially the drum sound, which really keeps it's percussive quality in the mix, but doesn't sound overproduced. The recording sounds really multi-dimensional too, with everything sounding discreet from everything else - there's no overlap of indistinguishable noise in the mix, which is something which I'd dare to say a great deal of bands end up having underneath whatever part of the music the listener is noticing at the time. It's very clear what every instrument is, and what it's doing, and above all, it sounds like the product of a band. It's cohesive and solid.

While Owl may not be the most unique, original sounding band I've ever heard, they certainly know how to make a fun EP - it feels very complete, and is all the more enjoyable for that fact. I've never had anything against bands which use tried-and-tested sounds, as long as they do it well. My ears tell me that Owl definitely do it well. 

I'm giving this an 8/10.

Owl Official Site
Owl on Bandcamp
Owl on Myspace
Owl on Facebook
Owl on Metal Archives