Several years ago I've witnessed Stonebride perform live and after the concert these Croatians stayed at my place for two nights. Shortly after, I left the rock and metal world behind me because of several personal and financial reasons and I lost track of most of the bands I had met in that period. Stonebride was one of the bands that I’ve always remembered. In fact, they were the very first band that I labeled “Stoner Rock” with their combination of heavy riffing, floaty vocals and tons of fuzz. I think I called them a stoner-version of Black Sabbath back then.Almost eight years later I saw on facebook that Stonebride had just released a new album so I contacted them and to my surprise they remembered every detail of those two awesome nights and days. They sent me a copy of Heavy Envelope after I told them about Merchants of Air and promised to write a review. I have to admit that I lost track of them after their 2008 album ‘Inner Seasons’, so I didn’t know they have also released ‘Summon the Waves’. I loved their ‘Smile & Shine’ e.p. so I based my listening-effort on that three-track. At that time they too didn’t seem to know anything about stoner rock. They just called their music “doom loaded blues”.
What immediately stands out on Heavy Envelope is the grown-up, mature sound. It seems like Stonebride started crossing the borders of the Stoner Rock genre to enter the elite realm of classic rock. The stoner and doom elements are still present but the sound and song structures clearly lean towards the psychedelic seventies. The clean vocals over the fuzz-ridden guitars give the whole a bit of a mystic edge. It’s almost as if Led Zeppelin teamed up with Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats to create something astonishingly pure and vintage. My favorite song on this album is 'Lowest Supreme', a hell of a rock song and an instant classic as far as I’m concerned. But the other five tracks are on no point inferior. Stonebride found the perfect blend of heavy riffing and psychedelic ‘freak-out’ passages or beautiful emotional fragments. I think even Ozzy would be proud of the direction this band has been growing into.
Besides the obvious classics there’s also lots of influences from modern day bands like Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age or Baroness but all these are just references. It’s quite clear that Stonebride has succeeded in finding their own sound by incorporating a lot of experimentation, solo’s, drum variations and even some Eastern influences once in a while. Proof of these are rollercoaster rides like 'Movies, Movies and Sokushinbutsu' that constantly shift between heavy rock and psychedelic ballads. Besides containing six great separate songs, Heavy Envelope is an album that is perfectly suited for putting on automatic replay. It’s weird how songs seem to float into each other and make the listener a bit confused about which song exactly he’s listening to. The whole sounds so varied and so experienced that it’s hard to believe that this is the same band as eight years ago.
So let’s conclude by recommending this album for every fan of decent rock music, whether it is stoner-related or not. Heavy Envelope is a short (a bit over thirty minutes) but exquisite CD (or if you're lucky, LP, since there are only five vinyls made of this album). Stonebride has created something that has the potential to lift them up to the highest regions of the modern day rock scene. Just like me, you will find yourself listening to this one over and over again. I surely hope this album will be promoted by an extensive tour and a lot of upper-card appearances on festivals far and wide. Stonebride truly deserves this…