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Nine Stones Close - Leaves CD (album) cover


Nine Stones Close



3.85 | 112 ratings

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5 stars 'Leaves' is the most recent offering from English/Dutch (and now Irish!) band Nine Stones Close, and if you're reading this review, you are probably already aware of their previous offerings ('St. Lo', 'Traces', 'One Eye on the Sunrise'). If you are a fan of any or all of these albums, let me say this simply: you owe it to yourself to listen to their newest album. It is a brilliant piece of work from start to finish.

One thing NSC have never been accused of is sitting on their laurels, and 'Leaves' is no exception. Most notable is the change in vocalist: Marc Atkinson is out, and Irishman Adrian O'Shaughnessy is the new man on vocals. NSC have also recruited a new keyboard player (Christiaan Bruin) as well as a new bass player (Peter Groen), so it should come as no surprise to anyone that we have some changes in sound here. Rest assured, however, that mastermind of the group Adrian Jones (guitar) is still on board, as is the incredible drummer Pieter van Hoorn. Adrian O'Shaughnessy is a much more muscular vocalist that Marc Atkinson, with a vocal style and range more oriented towards heavier music, and that vocal power is required on 'Leaves': this is a darker, heavier album than anything NSC have released previously. That's not to say that this album doesn't sound like a NSC album: the songwriting is, to these ears, a very logical progression from OEotS, but the arrangements here are often considerably more guitar-oriented and distorted than on their previous albums. And they make it work, believe me. Your first listen to this album may be a bit disconcerting, but by the end of your second listen, this album will definitely make sense as a Nine Stones Close album. This is a progressive album, in the truest sense of the word, by a band that does not believe in doing things the easy way.

This remarkable album clocks in at just under an hour, with only five songs present: opener 'Complicated' is the runt of the litter at only five minutes in length; this is followed by 'Goldfish' (12:47), 'Lie' (9:59), 'Spoils' (16:35) and the title track 'Leaves' (13:45). Rest assured that there is no dead weight in any of these longer songs: they develop, evolve, progress and move ever-forward, never outstaying their welcome. I won't review each song individually, as there are other reviews online which do this in great detail, and probably better written than I could manage! I will say, though, that the wide range of influences on show throughout this album - King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Porcupine Tree, Marillion - are combined to produce an album that manages to never sound like anyone other than Nine Stones Close. Perhaps an more aggressive NSC than we've heard before, but with a lot of fascinating things to say, both musically and lyrically. Do yourself a favour and listen.

rstaylor | 5/5 |


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