Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: July 8th, 2016, via Rise Records
Gone Is Gone– the latest rock super group consisting of vocalist and bassist Troy Sanders, of Mastodon, guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens Of The Stone Age, At The Drive In drummer Tony Hajjar, and film scorer Mike Zarin– have released their debut self-titled EP. The eight track release not only provides a unique outlet for each member and opportunities to hear such figures in a vastly different musical context, but also will leave fans hungry for more.
The opening song, “Violescent”, is a monstrous introduction to the band. The song itself holds zero punches; “Violescent” delivers not one or two, but three badass guitar riffs, while being fueled by a punk energy dressed to the nines in alternative rock and metal textures. Certainly, at the very least, it is a very bold introduction which will pull listeners right in. Throughout the rest of the album’s play through, Gone Is Gone takes very few moments to slow down. Short songs “Character” and “Recede And Enter” both take the opportunity to provide a sense of space between the heavier tracks while also allowing for the band to experiment with guitar drones, effects, and studio magic to create wonderfully dissonant soundscapes, while also serving and an introduction to the upcoming song.
Much like “Violescent”, most of Gone Is Gone is clearly a work that is rooted in the styles of the many musicians involved, specifically that of Sanders and Van Leeuwen. Gone Is Gone captures a heaviness which is clearly inspired from Mastodon, but is dialed back by the inclusion of such a unique and alternative approach, reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age. This often comes in the forms of different textures and rhythmic sections which act as a counter weight to Sanders. Ultimately, it is this intersection of styles-and a unique collision of highly talented song writers- which makes Gone Is Gone such an enjoyable experience. Both “Starlight” and “Stolen From Me” are excellent examples of how the band can deliver hard hitting tracks with driving pulses while still stepping away from such an obviously metal approach. “One Divided” and “Praying From The Danger” on the other hand, are much more hard hitting than the rest.
While only eight songs and just over half an hour in length, Gone Is Gone is quite the exceptional release. Not only is the juxtaposition between the aforementioned two styles- which rarely ever reach each other – pulled off absolutely brilliantly, but the individual performances from each musicians is nothing short of excellent. Sanders’ voice is not only incredibly powerful, but it can convey a sense of raw emotion even through his distinctive gruff and gravelly quality. Van Leeuwen’s guitar work truly shines and showcases him as the exceptional player that he is; often, due to simply how many guitarists are involved in a typical Queens Of The Stone Age song, it is difficult to isolate his parts from the rest. One listen to his work on Gone Is Gone will have you immediately admiring his musicianship even further, while the addition of Zarin on keyboards provides not only an abundance of textures but also a sparring partner for Leeuwan to bounce off of. Hajjar’s drumming not only proves to be highly precise and technical, but also very progressive, often evolving throughout the course of the song, as heard best on “Starlight”. All in all, this is a group of very talented musicians who have come together to write music for the love of writing music. The result is a genre bending album which proves to be a highly unique collection of material in the modern rock climate of today. In Many ways, Gone Is Gone– the band as well as the album- are an anomaly- they is experimental in many obvious and subtle ways and progressive in its unique nature while remaining grounded in its metal and hard rock roots. Gone Is Gone will take listeners down a left turn from where they expected and will leave them wishing more artists today did the same.
3: Stolen From Me
5: One Divided
6: Praying From The Danger
7: Recede And Enter
8: This Chapter
Listen to “Violescent”:
Watch the music video for “Starlight”: