Heavy rock with a slow burn
Supergroups can be sort of a hit-or-miss venture. They always generate a lot of excitement from fans, but tend to put out only one record just so they can be quickly forgotten. Of course there are some exceptions, but this has certainly proved to be true for supergroups such as Storm Corrosion or T.R.A.M. It’s not necessarily that these groups are always bad, some are actually quite good, but they usually lie in such a deep realm of experimental that the music can’t be accessible to larger audiences. In the metal world, Bloodbath seems to be the most notable exception to this, but this may be largely in part that Bloodbath is a supergroup that does the opposite of what many others do: it takes artists from bands that are more experimental and puts them in a setting where they are making music that is more traditional.
Gone is Gone is the next supergroup to try and bring their own brand of musical experimentation to rock and metal fans. Featuring members of Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age and At The Drive-In, Gone is Gone’s self-titled debut feels like hard rock with the soul of grunge and sludge, which is then fused with avant-garde and progressive elements. The first single, “Violescent,” generated a lot of excitement from fans. It has many of the best elements from each of the artists contributing to it, and along with Troy Sanders’ monstrously powerful voice driving it, it certainly holds up as something worthy of the fans’ attention. From this track alone, it looks like Gone is Gone might be more than just a musical fling.
So does the rest of the record hold up? This is definitely a sound that will resonate well with fans of A Perfect Circle or Nine Inch Nails. There are plenty of sludgy guitar riffs reminiscent of Remission-era Mastodon, but they’re played with the mellow groove of QOTSA’s more down-tempo material. Couple that with some of At The Drive-In’s proggy weirdness, it adds up to a dark and spacey sound that would make any 90’s kid’s spine tingle. With Mastodon’s transition into a more rock-oriented sound, Sanders is certainly finding a good home for his voice outside of a metal setting.
Ultimately though, the album tends to sag under its own weight. That isn’t so to say its bad, but as said before, when musicians get the itch to branch out the product isn’t always very accessible. After the first track, “Violescent,” the album’s energy dissipates off pretty quickly. The songs are still good, but not quite catchy enough to help compensate for the album’s overly mellow vibe. At times that makes the album feel a little lackluster.
This is a group of very talented and seasoned songwriters, and the music reflects each of their individual strengths and abilities. “Violescent” and “One Divided” stand out as some of the stronger tracks on the record, but they aren’t able to carry the weight of an entire album on their own. “Praying from the Danger,” feels remarkably like a nap-time song despite many of its heavier elements. Songs like “Starlight” and “This Chapter” utilize some beautiful atmospheric effects along with some more complex harmonies that get a sound which is undeniably beautiful, but lacks enough strong dynamics to keep the music from getting monotonous. “Character” and “Recede and Enter” attempt to create atmospheric, unstructured soundscapes, but ultimately feel only like filler between the other tracks. Even for stoner rock fans, it might not hold the listener’s attention span.
However, there will definitely be some fans who find some merit in the slow-burn approach that Gone is Gone is taking towards their music. Though it might not be the most exciting record of 2016, it certainly doesn’t lack musical depth, and there is definitely a specific kind of audience that this music will resonate with. There is certainly some potential here, and time will tell how serious this project really is.