Cards on the table, this one caught my eye purely for the name of the band. “Wicked Stone” is one of my favourite Slash songs and it got me wondering. A quick check of their Facebook page cites Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge as their influences… oh, and Guns N’ Roses.
Albeit a tenuous link, I immediately hit the “play” button and was hit with sheer aural delight. Going by the book of modern hard rock, there are massive crunching guitars, thundering drums and singalong choruses. The self-titled EP is the Kent-based band’s introduction to the world. As the old adage goes: “First impressions matter” and the five-piece have managed to make an exceptional one.
Bands creating uncompromising gritty rock for the modern age are everywhere at the moment, taking their influences from the new wave of arena bands and it’s great that we’re at that cycle. There is a “but” to this. Many of them end up being fenced into the “generic modern hard rock”. Ready for another but? Wicked Stone jump that fence with plenty of room alongside a handful of other names making a similar racket.
The talent and passion leak from the speakers as the bridge of “Another Round” grabs you by the ankles and knocks you off your feet with the duelling guitars of Ryan Stageman and James Forrister. Drums are provided by Olly Smith and bring with them much of the music’s guts and bravado. Couple that with the meaty bass lines on offer from James Amos and the four of them fuse together to make something I can only describe as sonically special.
Then there’s Joe Hawx’s vocal skills. Much like the band itself, there are similar voices dotted all over the shop. However, there’s meat on the bones here which others lack. He shines bright on tracks like “Slide Baby” and “The End” adding a melodic edge to his equal part snarl and booming voice.
While Wicked Stone may not have reinvented the wheel, they take a sound which is immensely popular right now and do it better than most. If this taster is anything to go by, their future could shape up to be something very interesting indeed.