If you're hailing from
Derry / North Ireland and you're in a band, of course the usual cliché
bands spring to mind: Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, U2...
What have all these outfits in common? They're no real Metal bands.
Nothing wrong with that - regarding Metal, Ireland still is a bit
behind, even today.
SANDSTONE, though, could change this status pretty soon. These four
young men have just released their second album, titled "Purging The
Past", and have all the necessary prerequisites to be an international
success. Their mix of tight Power Metal spiced with a decent dash of
melodious Progressive is riveting and reminds you a bit of Fates
Warning, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, or even Guns'n'Roses. The latter may
be a bit odd, some will say, but SANDSTONE dare and manage the almost
impossible, creating a versatile, exciting, and unique style. 2003, the
band is established by Stevie McLaughlin (lead guitar) and Sean McBay
(vocals / guitar) - and from the start, they are eager to write and
play their own material.
Even at this time, both youngsters are already experienced musicians,
and, shortly after SANDSTONE has seen the light of day, it is obvious
that the chemistry between the two of them is just right. They start
recording songs in their own studio, and get better and better at it,
improving their skills continuously. Stevie's brother David McLaughlin
(bass) and Paddy Flemming (drums) join the two, completing the band.
The foursome wants to perform their songs live as soon as possible -
which they do, turning SANDSTONE into a household name in the Irish
scene very fast. 2006, they sign a deal with Casket Records, and the
label releases their debut album "Tides Of Opinion", consisting mainly
of material written since 2003. The album, containing twelve songs
recorded in their own studio, is very well received by the press, the
gist of it being "I haven't heard such an impressive Hard Rock album
for a long time".
"Tides Of Opinion" opens a lot of doors for SANDSTONE: they play
numerous gigs, and also a tour in England 2006/2007. Even
hyper-critical British music magazine Kerrang! is crazy about the
band's outstanding live performance. 2008, they start working on the
successor of "Tides Of Opinion" - that means less live performances.
Once again, the band is recording in their own studio, thus being
independent of tight time schedules and pressure - and the new
compositions mirror that advantage.
Right from the start, "Purging The Past” is a statement: these young
men have matured as a band, and they have honed their songwriting and
stylistic skills remarkably. This album is also released by Casket
Records and gets brilliant reviews. No wonder LIMB MUSIC is interested
in this gifted combo (being a perfect fit for their band roster): the
label licenses the album right away.
So, finally "Purging The Past" is released beyond Ireland - with a new
artwork, remixed by the band, and remastered by Uwe Lulis (Rebellion,
ex-Grave Digger). There is no doubt that "Purging The Past" will cause
a sensation. The 12 songs on the album are versatile, catchy and
impress you with classy songwriting. The opener "Anymore Lies", for
example, emphasizes the band's assets: a heavy track with progressive
influences and a great melody line - just like old Fates Warning.
"Hiding In The Shadows" once again could be compared to Fates Warning,
but also bears comparisons with older Queensryche songs, as does the
great, pumping uptempo composition "Fingerprints". Remarkable on this
one: Sean McBay's intense, charismatic voice, sometimes reminding you
of Axl Rose (Guns'n'Roses), but then again, he's also influenced by his
past NWOBHM days. SANDSTONE master even emotional half ballads easily -
just check out "Karma", an extremely catchy song with an incredibly
intense melody. That's material for the Rock Hall of Fame! Rhythmic
"Son Of Carthage" contains cleverly arranged passages à la Iron Maiden.
Irate, crispy "The Road To Guantanamo" is an excellent neck wrecker
demonstrating the band's modern, up-todate approach regarding lyrics.
the critical success of second CD 'Purging the Past' described by Bruce
Dickinson as "the most promising thing to come out of Ireland in
years", Sandstone present their latest release 'Cultural Dissonance'.
An embryonic concept for this new work was already forming just as
sophomore 'Purging the past' was hot off the press.
This latest offering depicts a band that is not afraid to grow and
evolve both as performers and as songwriters: Still apparent is
Sandstone's hallmark, dynamic and emotive lyrics and meticulously
crafted melodies, but now with a new directness and technical
intensity. They had finally found a way to forge their diverse
influences and creative ideas into one coherent style that somehow
manages to be ballad-like and heartfelt yet bone-crushingly heavy at
the same time. Sandstone make a virtue of walking the fine line between
hard rock, metal and progressive rock, allowing all three approaches to
constantly battle each other and never conceding a victor. The result
is addictively compulsive listening.
It became clear that Sandstone's previous method of recording would
not serve the potential of this new material, so the summer of 2010 saw
Sandstone's home studio BoxRoomStudios demolished and rebuilt from the
ground up to provide a new working environment that could grow with the
bands ambitions. Armed with a new drummer and a new studio the band
began tracking the full production of cultural dissonance in late 2010.
The challenging demands of the new material proved to be an epic yet
rewarding undertaking for Sandstone resulting in ten songs that call to
mind contemporary influences such as Symphony X, Vanden Plas and
Pagan's Mind, yet somehow evoke the classic traditions of Queensrÿche,
Helloween and Fates Warning. At the core of Sandstone is the
songwriting team of Sean McBay and Stevie McLaughlin who had, until
now, been writing separately. This approach was abandoned for 'Cultural
Dissonance' in favour of a more collaborative approach resulting in a
larger melting pot of ideas and increased compositional scope for
Sandstone’s hard work and vision for this new album had been
vindicated when in 2011, Limb Schnoor of Limb Music Products agreed to
release the album worldwide. Now that the album is finished the band
are looking forward to honing their live skills on the European
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