Trying to Locate Cohesion
When one hears the names Mastadon, At the Drive-In and Queens of the Stone Age, a sense of grandeur likely comes to mind. “Supergroup” might not necessarily be the best term to describe Gone is Gone, though it’s an expected go-to descriptor when thinking of this configuration of musicians from the aforementioned bands, including Troy Sanders, Troy Van Leeuwen, Tony Hajjar and film composer Mike Zarin. Each of these musicians is talented in their own right and they present their prowess rightfully on the band’s first full length Echolocation, but lacking from what could’ve been a solid collection of metal-tinged heavy rock songs is the existence of an “oomph”factor many might probably feel would be necessary from such a pedigreed band.
Saying that Echolocation falls short by no means delineates inadequacy on the musicians’ individual parts. If anything, it means quite the opposite. The album’s opener, “Sentient,” blusters Zarin’s capacity for synth playing and Leeuwan (of QOTSA)’s guitar mastery. The drum solo in the beginnings of “Pawns” refreshes the memory of the moodiness ATDI drummer Hajjar can create, and Sanders’ bass playing on “Gift” and vocals throughout the album are at times hard to separate from his work with Mastadon. Bluesy, tribal and atmospherically crushing in soundscapes, Echolocation does showcase each participating notemaker individually, but that’s exactly the problem.
Individual accolades falter in meaning when searching to praise the work as a whole, which is why Echolocation is a few steps behind what the band may have intended it to be. The songs grow too cozy in their lack of coalescence, resulting in an album that sounds more like a bunch of friends that came together to jam, without necessarily thinking what they wanted their jam to produce.
Maybe Gone Is Gone is okay with this. Hell, it could even be what the quartet was expecting the project to be. It’s not as if any of them are dying for differing avenues for success, granted each of their primary acts are so integral to what modern heaviness means. But, throwing puzzle pieces in the air and expecting them to fall perfectly into place doesn’t warrant greatness either.