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NINE STONES CLOSE

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Nine Stones Close biography
NINE STONES CLOSE was conceived in 2008 as a solo project by Adrian Jones (Numb, Lie Big, Jet Black Sea): the first album, "St Lo", was independently released in the Netherlands. The project grew into a band for "Traces" when Adrian was joined by Brendan Eyre (Riversea), Marc Atkinson (Mandalaband, Riversea) and Neil Quarrell.

"One Eye on the Sunrise" saw a further evolution of the band with returning members Marc Atkinson and Brendan Eyre now joined by Peter Vink on bass (Q65/Ayreon/Star One/Finch) and on drums Pieter van Hoorn (Knight Area). In 2016 a new line up was announced, with Adrian Jones and Pieter van Hoorn now joined by vocalist Adrian (Aio) O'Shaughnessy (Psychic For Radio, Frame Shift), Christiaan Bruin on keyboards (Sky Architect, Mayra Orchestra) and Peter Groen on bass.

Adrian Jones - guitars, guitar synthesizer
Pieter van Hoorn - drums & percussion
Christiaan Bruin - keyboards
Peter Groen - bass and stick
Adrian 'Aio' O'Shaughnessy - vocals


: : : Adrian Jones, Netherlands : : :

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LeavesLeaves
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PROGROCK RECORDS 2012
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NINE STONES CLOSE discography


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NINE STONES CLOSE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 17 ratings
St Lo
2008
3.94 | 134 ratings
Traces
2010
4.00 | 180 ratings
One Eye On The Sunrise
2012
4.10 | 50 ratings
Leaves
2016

NINE STONES CLOSE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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NINE STONES CLOSE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 4 ratings
ReTraced
2010
4.61 | 14 ratings
Falling To Pieces EP
2011
3.25 | 4 ratings
Complicated
2016

NINE STONES CLOSE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Leaves by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 50 ratings

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Leaves
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by rstaylor

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.

 Leaves by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 50 ratings

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Leaves
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Sombre expanses, decidedly forceful environments and desolate reactivity. Nine Stones Close (NSC) have altered their state, moved beyond the zone of calm twilight and flung themselves into a completely different sonic dominion. A rather massive shake-up of personnel was at the forefront of such an adjustment as Adrian Jones on guitars and drummer Pieter Van Hoorn have re-tooled their muse, bringing in talented Dutch keyboardist Christiaan Bruin (who has a few albums under the 'Chris' moniker), bassist Peter Groen and a versatile Irish vocalist Aio O'Shaughnessy (Frameshift) . Adrian's fabulous Jet Black Sea project obviously tailored a new and fresh direction, a stark universe loaded with intensity and gloom. While quite a new experience from their previous works, their melancholic nature is forever present, now heightened by a sharper palette as well as a more masculine vocal presence that does take a little getting used to at first.

Things start out in classic form on 'Complicated', a brooding mood swings in the atmospherics and little time is wasted to introduce Adrian's scratchy guitar and Aio's rather exalted vocals , elevating the power levels to raunch and launch, the driving bass and van Hoorn's powerful drum fills giving all the support needed. Angry and, well ''complicated'! Sinuously seductive with a dash of sonic perversity, this could have been a heavy Porcupine Tree styled song, if not for the more urgent vocal stylistics. Short and to the point, welcome to the new NSC!

The next 4 tracks are all 10 minute + affairs, so this is a dense, developed to the gills opus that provides immense depth and width. First up, 'Goldfish' is a whopping expanse of annoyed ambiance, heavily drenched in cyclical psychedelia that forges mood over matter, feeling over formula. Fizzy somnolence allied with electric rage, there is a panorama of emotions that span the gamut, from anguish to irritation, showing little penchant for platitude. Adrian laces a myriad of licks, bites and chomps to the synthesized stew, at times clanging, chiming and ringing chords to great effect, using some slide guitar phrasings to add some garnish. Bruin remains discreet, effectively coloring the arrangement with tons of modern flourishes, rich in electronic effervescence. Aio languishes in his lament, cuing the rhythm section to forcefully kick in the door and let the power enter the fray, brutally and uncompromisingly! A tremendous epic track of the highest order.

The bittersweet expression of 'Lie' is totally unexpected, an oblique, raw, almost dissonant and grungy piece that exhorts a desire to stupefy and confront. This is a heavy, greasy and unshaven colossus, hinting toward a more hurricane-like delivery that yearns for discomfort and sleaziness. The stunning vocals are desperate, almost frenetic, hence quite the polar opposite of the more feminine (but brilliant) style of Marc Atkinson. The insistent rough guitar shrapnel pains, threatens and scars the uninitiated listener, all kinds of interesting stylistic experiments that truly are progressive in terms of evolutionary context. Yes, this is more demanding and complex that the previous NSC works, requiring open-mindedness, participation and concentration. Adrian outro solo is agonizingly stellar.

The longest track, 'Spoils' clocks in over 16 minutes, an adventure in progressive mastery that may remind some fans of PTree's glorious epic 'Anesthetize', in that it stretches the scope from hushed romanticism to hysterical abandon, with every other emotion in between. The balls it takes to leave a man and a microphone alone with scarcely any accompaniment is quite the gamble, as Aio hurls forward his wounded venom, until the rage explodes like some monstrous cyclone of dread and doom. The Led Zeppelin (a la Kashmir) riff will catch you unaware (even if I gave it away), a sudden and booming elevation into the upper territories of bombastic symphonic prog, Aio bellowing and blaring with unchecked sizzle. This teeter-tottering between black and white, once soft and then hard is expertly displayed, in the most convincing manner by all the instrumentalists as well as the lead singer, each focused on the prize. The lyrical content is dour, pessimistic and flat out despondent. Another sensational but arduous ride, squeezing the soul with apparent impunity.

The final and title track is the clincher, a tremendous opus stamped with genius of unparalleled proportions, displaying incredible restraint and creative intelligence, Peter Groen in particular doing some finesse work on his bass guitar, Adrian caressing his frets with vivacious delicacy, the subtle jazzy drum filling and Aio's muttering grievance, all in tune as if in a gentle and relaxed bubble, waiting for the release. When he states 'I only drink when I am drowning', the sheer brilliance hits you like a ton of bricks, the soporific voice reminding one of vocalists such as Steve Hoggarth or early Mark Hollis, undeterred by the clever electronic keyboard barrage. The impression that this fleeting feeling can go on forever is slashed by a whopping guitar solo, a crescendo slowly building up momentum and passion that is purely mesmerizing. With more astute lyrics like 'Have you ever seen the light, have you ever lived your life', the realization that both artist and spectator are in a symbiotic pleasure dome that has achieved the loftiest level of intensity: aching beauty, delirious melancholia and the coalescence of simplicity. The finale is grandiose and explosive, proof is in the undeniable impression of sonic afterglow.

If a fan of the heavy progressive scene, you will find all the challenges that you need to continually discover new twists within tracks you may hear many more times gain, it's just THAT dense. It's not an easy listen, no fluff, no respite, no ballad, no top-ten attempt. The Porcupine has chopped down its Tree, perhaps it's time to rake in the 'Leaves'.

Just plain amazing!

5 Shrubberies

 Leaves by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 50 ratings

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Leaves
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by marbles259

5 stars

Nine Stones Close

Leaves

Adrian Jones is not a man that likes to be pigeon-holed. His involvement with the spectacular The Path of Least Existence by Jet Black Sea (the duo of Jones and Michel Simons) brilliantly showcased his love of the experimental, soundscapes and instrumental workouts. With the latest album by Nine Stones Close, he has once again shown he is not afraid to push the boundaries.

Leaves, the fourth outing for the Anglo-Dutch outfit, shows such a change and development in sound, that some may wonder if it was recorded by the same band. That said, only two-fifths of the line-up that recorded 2012's ,One Eye On The Sunrise feature here. Adrian Jones (guitarist / driving force behind the band) and Pieter van Hoorn (drums) remain. The new recruits are Christiaan Bruin (keyboards), Peter Groen (bass) and most significantly Adrian (AiO) O' Shaughnessy (vocals).

Previous Nine Stones Close albums have always had a distinctive, atmospheric sound with nods to bands such as Pink Floyd, running through them. Amongst this, Jones has never been afraid to use introspective lyrics and with this album, Nine Stones Close has moved more deeply into that territory with their music too. Long-time fans of the band will no doubt find this surprising at first and there will certainly be some who will find O'Shaughnessy's vocals a little difficult to adjust to, such is his difference in style to Marc Atkinson. Therein lays the beauty of this album. It would have been easy to find a vocalist closer in range and technique to Atkinson and simply carry on. This album is heavier, darker and infinitely more brooding than any of its predecessors. With this in mind, the performance of O'Shaughnessy fits perfectly. In any case, Jones has never taken the easy route or the soft option. During the making of this album, over an hours' worth of material was shelved and the entire writing process re-started, such was his desire to make this album a real statement of intent.

And so to the songs themselves.

Opener, Complicated (on release for several weeks before the full album) clocks in at five minutes dead and is the shortest track on the album by another five. It is immediately apparent that this is a new Nine Stones Close and while Complicated isn't completely indicative of what's to come, it is enough of an appetiser to show that the band really is onto something different here. The lush keyboard introduction hails back to sounds of previous albums but the arrival of the driving bass and a staccato guitar riff, take us somewhere totally new. Within the first minute, the lyrics reveal just how dark this journey is going to be. "Another scar, another day, just want to close my eyes". Even by his standards, Jones' has really opened himself up on this album and the lyrical darkness is a constant throughout. Written well after the other tracks on the album, it must have been an easy decision to place Complicated first in the running order, as it makes a bold statement about the new line-up and new sound in a short space of time. Without being a throwaway track by any means, with Complicated placed here, it seems introductions are made and the serious business can truly begin.

The next four tracks, which comprise the dark heart of the album, are all at least ten minutes long and allow for deep exploration of the band's new direction. This album hasn't been designed to be an easy listen; it needs time to really get under the skin.

Second track Goldfish is a sprawling, inspiring and frankly superb thirteen minute epic warning against the hypnotic effect of 24 hour media. The track builds superbly, "I watch TV, I hit the key, desire on demand" sings O'Shaughnessy in the opening moments, pulling us into a dreamlike trance. Grunge influences are strong in this song but there is great diversity between the different sections. There are moments taking us back to Fugazi-era Marillion (particularly on the guitar solo during the final quarter) and there are several flashes that wouldn't be out of place on one of Steven Wilson's most recent solo outings. It may just be the best thing the band has ever produced.

Lie, just a few seconds short of ten minutes, is the closest we get to prog-metal on the album and stakes its claim as the heaviest and dirtiest track in the Nine Stones Close canon. The louder instrumental sections demonstrate just how well the rhythm duo has gelled; Peter Groen plays like he's been here all along. It also gives much credence to the view that Jones' approach to guitar on this album contributes fully to the band's engine room. As part of an album with intense, ominous lyrics it's hard to point to any moments of light. Lie continues this, "I'm obsolete and replete, I dance to your beat and sing your song". Jones writes lyrics which invite deeper analysis and Lie is no exception.

Up next is Spoils, the longest track on the album at sixteen-and-a-half minutes, which twists and turns like an espionage thriller. There's definitely an element of Led Zeppelin in the chemistry between the guitars and the keyboards in the first half and also in the chunky chords of the latter section. Spoils, like most of the album, has so many layers, haunting, echoing, distant vocals can be heard in the quieter sections, that much praise should be given to the mix and mastering of sound engineer Paul Van Zeeland. The sinister, sombre lyrical themes don't let up throughout. "Keep this up, cellophane lie, forget the world, forget people, forget love"

Rounding off the album is the fourteen minute title track. It is the most atmospheric, ethereal track on the album with a drone-like sound and a lyric that is forever searching for some kind of freedom; "Seems I only drink when I'm drowning, at least that's what I tell myself, yeah?I only drink when I'm drowning, guess I just don't swim too well." It's lengthy build up brings to mind, structurally if not musically, A Few Words For The Dead from Marillion's Radiation album. Leaves is a slow burning epic closer which builds an enigmatic theme with empyreal guitar and quiet but insistent cymbal, before exploding eight minutes in. Portentous bass and a questioning, anguished vocal, (Did I ever really live my life?), bringing the main part of the song to a close. That leaves us with the beautiful piano-based coda, based on a guitar part from earlier in the track. After an album of solemnity, perhaps this displays the hope that should never be fully driven from us or maybe its melancholic timbre validates the fact that in the end, we all "leave".

Leaves is an intense emotional journey and those looking for an album of background music or one that will click into place on first listen should look elsewhere. This album grows and claws at you with each play. The direction the band has taken shows not only courage but the unwillingness to stand still. The new line-up should rightfully be proud of such a work and they deserve this album to take them to the next level.

Where Nine Stones Close goes next will be of great interest but I can only hope that in this age of speed, instant information and "goldfish", listeners will give such a worthy opus the time it deserves.

 One Eye On The Sunrise by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 180 ratings

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One Eye On The Sunrise
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by sinslice

3 stars My problem here is with title track. The foregoing seems to be a good prelude to the same. In turn, it is the most progressive part of the album, along with Frozen Moment, by sudden changes and search for originality in it. It begins with a delicate acoustic intro in line with the previous piece, then enter an alternative rock course, to return in the seventh minute on a passive ground, in last two minutes becomes anarchy.

Frozen Moment is more balanced, but also unnecessary repetitions, spare 3 or 4 minutes.

Highlights for me are Janus, Sunset (instrumentals), Eos, A Secret, The Weight,

Between 3 and 3.5 stars....

 One Eye On The Sunrise by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 180 ratings

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One Eye On The Sunrise
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by cyberfloat

5 stars Reassuringly often in these days of what seems to be a resurgence of great progressive rock an album is brought out that completely obsesses me for several months. I bought One Eye on the Sunrise months ago, knowing it was going to be something special. It grabbed me from the very first playing and i listened to it many, many times over the ensuing weeks.

What is more unusual is an album that grabs you in this way and maintains its hold on you, still seeming fresh and never sounding too tired or familiar. The addition of a real drummer this time around has made a tangible difference to the sound that Adrian Jones and his talented crew make. I'm not going to do a laborious track by track critique here, there are others more proficient than I at doing that.

To me the most important thing is that this music just works on so many levels, whether the exquisite vocals from Marc Atkinson, the inventive soundscapes provided by keys man Brendan Eyre, the soaring guitar playing of Adrian Jones himself, or the driving rhythms and supporting percussion offered by Pieter Van Hoorn, for me this album ticks all the boxes, even to the extent of giving my much desired, but rarely achieved, full on emotional reaction, tears, goosebumps etc. The addition of Cellist Katy Bell on 2 of the tracks demonstrates a new maturity of composition that greatly adds to the overall sound pallette. New bass man Peter Vink and the wonderful Matt Stevens also contribute well.

I know that, despite the departure of Marc Atkinson, that Adrian is already hard at work on the next album and I, for one, am already watering at the mouth in anticipation.

 Traces by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.94 | 134 ratings

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Traces
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by Subterranean

4 stars This melancholic, atmosperic & mostly low-tempo album desserves an acclaim.

Neo-prog is a sub-genre that lost some momentum the last years. Still, there are a few projects that keep it on track with the quality we can expect.

As such, the album sounds rather modern and mix neo-prog with some symphonic & psychedelic influence. The atmosphere it delivers reminds me sometimes Blackfield. To a lesse extend we can find influences of Pink Floyd and late Marillion.

After a (long) instrumental introduction track that starts quicking with guitars after 2min. The next 3 tracks are mainly athmospheric with guidar and organ support and a soft but mastered singing. Threads (2nd track of the album) is arguably the best. The last track (Thicker than water) is over 14 min long. After a first half keeping the spirit of the previous tracks, the second half of the track delivers more heavy song with prominent guitar and mid-tempo (a bit like Knight Area).

Overall, an excellent ablum that I recommend.

 One Eye On The Sunrise by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 180 ratings

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One Eye On The Sunrise
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars NINE STONES CLOSE continue with the same style as was heard on their previous album "Traces". This is melancholic and atmospheric with those Mark Hollis-like vocals that sing about loss and hope. It's interesting that we get KNIGHT AREA's drummer on board for this one.

"Faceless Angel" is a short opening track with samples and piano leading the way early then it builds to a majestic sound. "A Secret" is mellow with those reserved vocals joining in. It does build on the chorus each time. I like the deep atmosphere after 2 1/2 minutes and the emotional guitar solo that follows. "Janus" opens with electronics and atmosphere then the guitar and drums start to take over. It settles back with piano only after 2 1/2 minutes then the guitar and drums return on this instrumental. "...And Dream Of Sleep" is less than 2 minutes of relaxed music including plenty of acoustic guitar. "One Eye On The Sunrise" opens with intricate guitar melodies as the vocals join in. Strings and piano help out as well. It kicks in just before 3 minutes to a surprisingly heavy soundscape with passionate vocals. Contrasts continue.

"Eos" is a short track with vocals. Once again it's melancholic and mellow. "The Weight" is atmospheric until about 2 minutes in when it picks up some with vocals. Contrasts continue. "The Distance" sounds good with that intricate opening guitar. Vocals join in then the guitar is strummed. The intricate guitar is back as these contrasts continue. I like the piano after 3 minutes. "Frozen Moment" opens with aggressive guitar as the sound builds. This is surprising. By the way this is the longest track at over 13 1/2 minutes. It settles back with vocals before a minute. Nice drum work after 8 1/2 minutes as it picks up again. Best song on the album in my opinion. "Sunset" is the short 1 1/2 minute closer. Piano and violin lead the way.

Unlike most I prefer "Traces" to this one. This just hasn't clicked with me and in fact has done the opposite over time. Good record though.

 One Eye On The Sunrise by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 180 ratings

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One Eye On The Sunrise
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Nine Stones Close churn out another set of highly emotive and passionate songs on One Eye On the Sunrise. Those who prize intricate songwriting or novel tangents in their prog probably are best moving on here, but on the other hands if you like broody-moody vocals delivered in a fairly accessible style (courtesy here of Marc Atkinson) to a lightly proggy backing with a mild focus on guitar (Adrian Jones) then it might float your boat. I wasn't too taken with the preceding Traces and I'm not bowled over by this - as far as introspective, moody prog in this general vein goes I found Edison's Children's debut album (In the Last Waking Moments) to be markedly superior - but they're drifting in the right direction as far as I'm concerned.
 One Eye On The Sunrise by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 180 ratings

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One Eye On The Sunrise
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by wiseOwl

4 stars Nine Stones Close third album is another huge leap forward after St Lo and the follow up Traces.First of all the main thing that has improved is the production,but most of all the use of a REAL drummer and what a fine drummer Pieter Van Hoorn (Knight Area)proves to be.The aquisition of Peter Vink of Dutch prog legends FInch,also is an inspired choice as is the core crew of Marc Atkinson and Brendan Eyre on vocals and keyboards respectively. The album opens with a huge slice of symphonic prog instrumental,Faceless Angel,which lays the foundations of what is to come.A Secret is next with a gorgeous Atkinson vocal setting up for a grand finale of synth and another fine Jones solo.Another instrumental follows in the way of Janus which is my personal favourite on the album,a mellotron chord sequence interspersed by wailing guitar and a metronomic drum beat,melting into gentle piano riff and vintage string synth, and then opening like a spring flower with splashes of classical guitar and choral vocals...stunning. And Dream of Sleep is yet another fine acoustic instrumental with a touch of piano and a bit of strings which is the appetiser for the epic title track of the album,One Eye On The Sunrise is a mishmash of styles ranging from acoustic,almost folk like with gorgeous cello and piano and what is Marc Atkinsons finest vocal on the album where he moves from gentle plaintive to screaming painlike in anguish..superb.The riff is Led Zep like in style as the song takes off and the rythmn section of Vink and Hoorn truly shine.EOS is next, which is a Floydian track and a repeat riff from the opening Faceless Angel with some great dreamy keyboard work from Eyre,The Weight is the most Traces like song on the album,another great Atkinson vocal and melody but the track is rather let down by the strange opening gambit that sounds out of place with rest of the track, with the soloing rather loose and out of tune in parts and spoils for me what is another very strong piece.The Distance is a beautiful atmospheric ballad that shows off again Atkinsons vocals and also Eyres beautiful piano and string parts..its also light relief as its doesnt have an extended heavy section or soloing which is sometimes overdone rather than keeping it simple.Frozen Moment is,quite simply the best slice of heavy prog you will hear anywhere,the whole band really let rip with fine riffs and thunderous drums and bass from Vink and Hoorn,interspersed with great soloing from Jones,Matt Stevens and Eyre,also a mention for the slight but effecting backing refrains from Stolen Earths Heidi Widdop...a truly great moment. Sunset is a beautiful Eyre piano piece with some mornful cello combining for what is the perfect end to a great great album. I look forward to what Nine Stones Close come up with next,but this will take some beating.
 One Eye On The Sunrise by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 180 ratings

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One Eye On The Sunrise
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'One Eye on the Sunrise' - Nine Stones Close (7/10)

Although there was never point where I found myself outright disliking it, I found myself less enthusiastic about Nine Stones Close's first album "Traces" (second if you count the Adrian Jones solo work "St. Lo"), and couldn't really get into what the band was doing. Although the soft, melancholic approach was pleasant to the ears, I felt the band's songwriting tended to stay mellow to the point of ennui. I found myself wanting more than the purely introspective, Floydy sound Nine Stones Close hoisted their flag under. Barring a dynamic range that wasn't meshing with personal taste however, Nine Stones Close demonstrated some great promise as a full band; a potential further realized with "One Eye on the Sunrise". Although the melancholia and brooding staples of the band's sound remain, Adrian Jones and company have widened their range and scope of their ambition. "One Eye on the Sunrise" doesn't completely solve the existing style issues I've had with the band since I first heard them, but I can at least call myself a fan of what they're doing.

As was the case on "Traces", many reviewers have cited emotional resonance and atmosphere as the "One Eye on the Sunrise"s selling point. Indeed, Nine Stones Close's big focus on sentiment and feeling in their music diverges them from most of the bands nowadays that fall underneath the progressive rock umbrella. Adrian Jones' melodic, soulful guitar work recalls the Floyd legend himself, David Gilmour. Returning keyboardist Brenden Eyre and bassist Peter Vink's sonic contribution are more reserved, offering a welcoming ambient backdrop for Jones' guitar work, with a keen insight on translating the atmosphere to fit both the sentimental and rock-oriented moments. Although there are several passages that point the spotlight on Jones' guitars, it's often vocalist Marc Atkinson that keeps the listeners attention. Although his voice was pleasant on "Traces", his performance here is much improved, sporting a wider range, even shedding the melancholia entirely for the occasional rocking chorus. Although his improved diversity is what sets him a step above his past self, his strongest talent remains the emotional warmth that he brings on the album's most tender moments. The soaring hook of the laid- back "A Secret" showcases an intense vibrato that gets under my skin.

Nine Stones Close may still keep most of their stones in the school of mellow sentimentality, but unlike "Traces", I get the sense here that they know when to rock. The title track is a perfect example of this, featuring some crisp riffs that I might even hear on a classic Rush album. The addition of Pieter van Hoorn for drum duties is a strong move towards a more intense style, a drummer I've appreciated exactly for his energetic, precise approach since hearing his performance with Knight Area. The range brings a much- needed jolt of caffeine to the band's sound, although there's been nothing lost from their originally 'tender' take on prog. Nine Stones Close writes music for rainy, introspective nights, and while "One Eye on the Sunrise" still isn't an album I can recommend for everyone, they've come a long ways.

Thanks to DamoXt7942 for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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