"Creative and entertaining material and, perhaps even better, music that creates expectation. You want to hear more"
5/5 Dangerdog Reviews


"This album is one of those must-haves in your collection. I assure you. I cherish and will hear a thousand times and I know that I will always enjoy it"
4.5/5 All Around Metal


"You Just have to listen the intro of this release and you know you're dealing with an exceptional talent on six strings"
Lords of Metal 80/100


"A marvel of melodic freshness"
4.5/5 Music In Belgium


"The guitar work is extraordinary"

8/10 Rock Garage Magazine


"Killer guitar lines throughout"
5.5/6 Eternal Terror


"Almost Perfect"
8/10 Rock Tribune


"Sean McBay offers us a remarkable technical virtuosity without neglecting passages imbued with emotion contagion" 14/20 Aux Portes Du Metal


"The guitar work is remarkable and the vocals of Sean McBay are really nice"
8/10 Behind The Veil


"Well structured, with some very good ideas and a more than worthy performances, this work leaves a taste quite good and allows us to grasp very good things for the future of SANDSTONE"

7.5/10 MetalCry

 


CD of the Month July 2014
95/100 Hellspawn


"World Class" Rock Times


"Sean McBay is a first class, distinctive front man"
8.5/10 PowerMetal.de

"For over 20 years I had to wait for a worthy successor of JESTER'S MARCH"

13/15 MusikReviews.de


"Explodes and excites our auditory system making us head-bang without difficulties"

8.5/10 Seigneurs du Metal


"Sandstone stands for quality on every front and in every detail"

86/100 Metal To Infinity


"The voice of Sean McBay greatly excites: quiet and calm as it should, firm and strong during heavy passages"

4/5 Keys and Chords

“Perfectly elaborated music with an obvious flair when it comes to blending several sub-genres to create their own unique Metallic alloy"
8/10 Metal Temple


"Strong Disc"
80/100 Ardschok Magazine

 

"The man on the mic is a satisfaction beyond compare" 10/10 Des Kutschers Kunst


"After hearing a beautiful, beautiful song like "Monument" you can not do anything but take your hat off. Very heartfelt, very emotional"

8/10 Rock In Spain



"Will fully reward the listener"
8/10 MetalZone


"Very Delicious pieces of melodic art that are simply seasoned wonderfully"
4.5/5 Metal Underground

"Surprise of the year. Have listened very carefully were now pressing 'play' again. Hell yeah!"
9/10 Festival Blog


"A masterpiece of a CD and it is one which this reviewer could listen to again and again"
8.5/10 Planet Mosh


"The songwriting is brilliant, with enough variety in the music, and plenty of elements to keep the listener focused until the end"
Metal Guide


"Challenging music with heart and soul"

6/7 Earshot


"A damn solid release, the quality of which leads me to believe this band will be one to watch in the near future"
4/5 Maximum Metal

"SANDSTONE seem to have everything, so that "Delta Viridian" is likely to fulfill many wishes"
9/10 Obliveon
 

 

REVIEWS FOR CULTURAL DISSONANCE

 


8/10 "The strong vocals of Sean McBay remains their greatest strength"


13/15 "One good album with the classic stuff, projecting well out from the crowd"


78/100
"Especially in the solos and the antics in
between you'll hear that Stevie McLaughlin a gifted technician"


"My recommendation: BUY IT!"


8/10 "A stunning Disc" 


85/100 "Welcome to new Iced Earth, Dream Theater, Agincourt and ... Sandstone"
 


70% "They have strong melodies, memorable choruses. very intense vibes and powerful groove. In general the compositions are based on diversity and that’s a really good attribute"


"This band knows what they want and let the fans hear this too. This album is definitely a must-have, not only the beautiful guitar lines, but the sensitive lyrics"

 

METAL GUIDE
9/10 " If you seek an album that can combine the fast and melodic elements of Power Metal, with complexity
of Progressive, into a mixture that has no weak points, then this is an album that you should check out"


8/10 "Surprised and thrilled by the continuing melodic intensity"


"Unbridled joy of playing and song writing of finesse"

HEAVYMETAL.DK
"Cultural Dissonance" is sophisticated and melodic metal ("the thinking man's metal" as they say)"


8/10 "Great to see more bands from Ireland stretch
their horizons, Sandstone should be one of the hidden gems for 2011".


7.5/10 "Cultural Dissonance is a pleasant surprise" 

 
8/10 "Power Metal with a progressive slant with lots of guitar violence, several styles of singing and drumming that even a rhythm-less listener could head bang to"


7.5/10
“It is crucial in this field have a great vocalist and I must say that from this point of view Sean McBay does not disappoint, in fact gives even more than something to the individual songs”

ALLIANCE
"This third work of Sandstone amply meets for quality and workmanship"


7/10 "Sean McBay deserves praise for the very good vocals, which together with a lot of great guitar playing lift the overall appearance significantly"


"ultimately Cultural Dissonance is a small masterpiece"

 

 

REVIEWS FOR PURGING THE PAST

 

Well, my friends, here is a very interesting band! I remember that a couple of years ago I received their debut album entitled “Tides of Opinion” and I was really impressed by the melodies and the lyricism that this band could produce. After that years passed and I thought that SANDSTONE was just another promising band that didn’t manage to make something more. So recently, I discovered this release on the IPool section of Limb Records and I immediately downloaded it! “Purging the Past”, is released 3 years after the debut album and still carries the elements that I liked from this band (melodies etc), but also the band made its sound heavier. Contrary to their debut album which was closer to the hard rock sound, this album is traditional metal with some slight power metal touches and the hard rock elements although they have been reduced, when they make their appearance they are very strong and give to the sound of the band some extra attitude. Musically the band is influenced by groups like IRON MAIDEN, QUEENSRYCHE (“Operation Mindcrime” era) and bit of BLACK SABBATH. All these influences, though, are so well mixed and filtered through the personality of the musicians that participate here, that the result flows naturally. Before I put an end to this review, I have to make a small comment about the voice of Sean McBay who has the lyricism of Geoff Tate’s voice but also the immediacy of a traditional metal singer. “Purging the Past” as a release surpasses the debut album of the band and I'm already itching to buy this release. This is definitely a band with personality…
Rating 8.5/10

After splashing the market with several progressive metal products, Limb Music brings to the fore what is perhaps his best album of the year
Rockinspain.es

"LIMB RECORDS DOES NOT PUT OUT QUANTITY BUT THEY DO PUT OUT QUALITY!!!"
CDInzane.com

Ireland may finally be proud to have its representative in the world of power metal
Spellbound Webzine

SAND STONE succeed by taking familiar ingredients and creating a very unique sound:  an album that will sit up and be counted among the more exciting releases of the year
Hooked-On-Music.de

Inexpensive riffs, mind-numbing solos,  and weak infantile, pseudo-emotional lyrics
3/10 extreemmetaal.nl


(Canada)
Time is the key, which is something as a reviewer I should never forget. It also helps to listen to the album the whole way through as opposed to turning it off two tracks in. I must admit it was hard work at first; I just didn't get these guys. Compared to the usual releases LMP send our way Sandstone is a completely different story – well at first glimpse that is. I just couldn't put a finger on what these guys sounded like, but after giving the album a full whirl I could see what the band were going for. Think Power Metal as a foundation, from that point inject a myriad of influence ranging from hard rock to Progressive Metal and we're starting to talk Sandstones language. I feel quite the fool for condemning this first time around because in all honesty, I was wrong. While this isn't flat-out amazing its pretty charming and fairly original, they have a real 80's sensibility about them and there's a load of Queensryche and Fates Warning to be heard in their sound.

The hardest part to get over for me was singer Sean McBay. He boasts a unique voice which at times reminds of Lance King – rather unfortunately we see him sound quite a bit like Axl Rose in "Y". However things could really be a lot worse, as Sean boasts a good sense of melody and can definitely hold a note. I found with time that his vocals really grew on me, which is something common with everything on offer on Purging the Past. Repeated listens are nigh on essential to open this up, but if you take the time you're certainly rewarded. Again to draw comparisons, Fates Warning's 1991 release Parallels is another good example of what these guys sound like, Purging the Past has a similar feel to it, melodic, heartfelt and easy on the ears. There are some really great songs to be had here too: album opener "Anymore Lies" gives a good feel as to what the band are about, boasting some stellar guitar work – something that really stands out actually, singer Sean McBay and Steve McLaughlin handle the guitars and deliver to a very high melodic standard, great guitar solos and some smoking riffage are served up throughout. "Son of Carthage" is a great prog/power track and stands as a personal highlight, it would be nice to see more tracks like this on future releases. "DOA" is another highlight for me, Sandstone really do everything right here, especially the guitar work both in the main riff and chorus, and lets not forget how cool the mid-section and solo are.

While I'm swallowing down the humble pie in front of me I'd just like to say I'm glad I invested my time with this band. It's definitely worth it and I'd like to hope a lot more people will find something special on Purging the Past. While this isn't flat out amazing, or reinventing the genre for that matter, Sandstone serve up a truly heartfelt album, oozing with charm and energy. The Progressive Metal genre could definitely do with some more albums like this; it's increasingly rarer we see albums ringing true to the pre Images & Words Progressive Metal scene. Perfect Sunday afternoon listening, sit back relax and enjoy the offer – just remember things might not click the first time around! Recommended.
Rating: 4/5


(Netherlands)
Damn crazy how things can turn out. When I first listened to this album I didn’t like it at all. Too long, directionless, no good songs, lack of catchy tunes, all fillers no killers and already heard in the past (but much better). So before writing the review, I decided to give it some extra time. I wanted to know what all that fuss about was. The album received overwhelming reviews and record label Limb Music decided to re-release the album all over Europe with new artwork and the album was remixed and re-mastered by Uwe Lulis (Rebellion, ex-Grave Digger).

And glorie halleluja! They were right. After some spins in my CD layer, I had to change my opinion on this second full CD release by Irish youngsters Sandstone. The album turned out to be a grower and finally rocked my socks off. Vocalist Sean McBay is a brilliant singer and his companions are damn good musicians. The album brings back the glory days of NWOBHM but served upon a modern plate of progressive rock with well crafted and fresh songs. You want names? Well, the album reminds me of Queensryche, Dream Theater (same great ballads), Iron Maiden, Vanden Plas, Dragonforce and even Guns’n’Roses. When some weaker songs would have left out, this could even have been a real killer.

Sandstone clearly shows that Ireland is far more than Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore or U2. Sandstone is the best metal band in Ireland at the moment. ‘Purging The Past’ puts Ireland right on the map of heavy metal. And that was about time. Fine release by a brave band. Recommended!
Rating: 8.5/10
 


(Germany)
Purging The Past "is the second album by the Irishman SAND STONE, present themselves so completely on an internationally competitive level. With introspective folk sounds of the brothers Stevie (guitar) and David McLaughlin (bass) and her two companions Sean McBay (vocals, guitar) and Paddy Flemming (drums), nothing to do. Instead, here vigorously rocked a well-fed and flavored mix of modern power metal and NWOBHM sound, with a subtle touch of prog and mix to a very wholesome overall sound.

True innovation is indeed seeking in vain, but if beckoning in the ballad "Y" is a subtle QUEEN-side, or you blow in "The Road to Guantanamo" a policy document with very harsh and aggressive riffing combined, can you really a lack of variety do not complain. As a sound technical models have largely IRON MAIDEN, but also serve Queensrÿche. The strong vocals always reminded again of Axl Rose, but does not quite so nölig and proves sufficient autonomy to support the impressively high overall level of SAND STONE too.

Overall, this album is so convincing and will inspire guarantee even in this much power-metal fans. Over the full album distance you sometimes get the impression that SAND STONE in the songwriting a bit too much to go on the safe side and use the fact too many obvious harmonies and melodic guidance. A real overheating, which stands out from the rest of the material, thus still missing. But this is a bleating at a high level, because both play as well as production technology, there is nothing to expose this Silberling, who also after repeated listening, even fun.

7 / 10
(Xeledon / 31.12.2009)


(Germany)
Heavy Metal's development assistance to its Northern Irish home run Sandstone from Derry since its founding in 2003. After its 2006 strategic debut "Tides Of Opinion" they are now with the successor Purging The Past "at the start, which was first marketed is also promoting their borders and Irish. Luckily for us, 'out-of-Irish', which would otherwise escape a chic AFI heavy food!


Behind Sandstone lies mainly super-melodic Power Metal. Supermelodisch a balancing act between power metal and it is not needed at all; complement each other far too good strength and haunting melody of classic metal-style atmosphere with a penchant for extravagant. Has something of Balance of Power or of magnitude 9, which the band since zusammenschmiedet of songs. Also remember so many beautiful dreamy melodies of the lead guitar at Pyramaze (the entry of "Hiding in the Shadows" - nice to Reinsetzen!).


But even friends of Queensrÿche get their money. That not only mystical make-clean guitar passages or acoustic tracks ( "Division"), which intelligently shaped and versatile complement heavy riffs and frame, but also a great feeling for unusual harmonies. Sandstone enhance their catchy melodies namely tense chords. The driving "fingerprints" is a good example of this Queensrÿche-inspired songwriting.
In the early Fates Warning one may think from time to time. This is due to the fact that singer Sean McBay a bit reminiscent of John Arch, although more extreme in the less active during the 2003 vintage John Arch-comeback "A Twist Of Fate". And secondly, it is because almost all of the songs have their tiny epic moments and not a single stubborn ideas and monotone were through-composed. Example: "The Road to Guantanamo", which changes several times despite its compact five minutes pace, tempo, rhythm, and its complete expression. The whole rhythm section here shows a superb sense of delicate dynamics.


So that's the pigeonhole is somewhat more difficult, Sandstone draufgepackt still have some real neck breaker with. In the crowded field and up-tempo with double bass act of "Happy Birthday" and especially the hymn "Son of Carthage," which has traces of Maiden and Helloween and demonstrates with his breakneck instrumental performances of the highest technical class. A few aisles back, for example switch "Y" or "karma", a plaintive power ballad in 3/4-Takt with heavy guitars ... smooth could be a rare but brilliant Priest his ballads.
All in all, "Purging The Past" is a presentable barely an hour for lovers angeproggter, melodic power metal sounds has become. In particular, it is somewhat refreshing, and once again (relative) newcomers in the area have Prog-without keyboard. Although Sandstone do nothing really new - the title of "Purging The Past" is not, therefore, understandable to ... quite audible, but the references come from the top, and the band knows how to combine fresh song ideas into compact pieces with risk of addiction too. You have on it's real - and if they manage to cultivate an additional one or another unique feature to create the next output may even make the quantum leap from the buy recommendation on compulsory purchase.
 

PowerMetal.de (Germany)
Sleek Power Prog from Ireland.

The Irishmen are known for many things: For butter, beer, Celtic folklore, THIN LIZZY and Primordial. Metal bands in the intersection of prog and power, however, are rare. SAND STONE want to close this gap now. And "Purging The Past" is certainly an album that can be kept in mind.
These are based on the four islanders clearly bands like Lethal and the early phase of Alder FATES WARNING, and combines these influences with various double-barreled guitar to raise the (natural) memories of IRON MAIDEN. And despite the name-dropping, the quartet not now sounds like a loose imitation of ideas, but does have its own identity.
That certainly is the voice of Sean McBay, does not sound after Geoff Tate, but bring your own, gentle tone, which also happy times hovering around the room. There are also service the clever arrangements, the variety and catchiness to the same extent. Songs like the heavy opener 'Anymore Lies', the wistful 'karma', these are nice with a brilliant chorus and guitar sessions provided 'Son Of Carthage' (album highlight!) And the strongly bottom-ballad 'All Operations' () with beautiful acoustic guitars all numbers of the upper class, which is set fixed in the eavesdroppers and show that SAND STONE are especially good songwriter.
While it is not the full dozen at such a high level, but there are no real failures to report, too. Accordingly, I can Purging The Past "all suggest that appeal to the reference bands. And this should indeed be a whole lot.
Anspieltipps: Lie Anymore, Son Of Carthage, All Operations

8.5 / 10
Peter Kubaschk, 16.12.2009
 

Metal Glory Magazine (Germany)
Add Metal from Ireland - Who here thinks first of folklore or as "Whiskey in the Jar," which must ensure that the Emerald Isle has to offer musically so a lot more. SAND STONE, for example, have absolutely nothing to do with the dusty local folklore, but to provide strong from hard rock with slight Power Metal influences. The band shows with their second album, "Purging The Past", that their strengths lie mainly in the songwriting. The disc starts with a strong triple - "Anymore" Lies, "" Hiding In The Shadows "and" Karma convince "through sophisticated rhythms and a catchy melody structure. Fast set up `s for" Son Of Cathage "and also" fingerprints "and the strong" Road to Guantanamo "reflect an Irish band that truly understands skillfully combines riffs and melody.
Towards the end the quality of the songs but can be for something, but this does not detract from the overall impression. SAND STONE delivered with "Purging the Past," a smart and traditional hard rock / metal album from which reminds us strongly of the rock of the 80s, and a comparison with NWOBHM legends can certainly make a stand. A bit of everything, in the case of SAND STONE is not that too much, but just the right mix.
8/10

metal-inside.de
SAND STONE from Derry to live with her second album, "Purging The Past" inspired their love of progressive, melodic metal from managed - while leaving a certain affinity with the traditional U.S. Metal and NWOBHM (Iron Maiden), no exception. The album was released some time ago in England and Ireland and now also find their way across the Channel. With songs like the slightly epic mid-Tempohit "Hiding The Shadows" (with its borrowings from QUEENSRYCHE and FATES WARNING), the forward-reaching "Son Of Carthage" (gitarrenmäßig remembers most clearly in the Maiden), the critical text written thoughtful Stampfer "The Road to Guantanamo", the quiet, with DREAM THEATER ballads comparable "Y" and the faster "fingerprints" should the young Northern Irishman can score well with us - in spite of a sometimes too monotonous songwriting and a few unspektakuläreren tracks. Purging The Past "In addition, notes with Sean McBay a singer whose great, in a comfortable operating level institution in the first moment for hard metal sounds a bit unusual, but SAND STONE also conveys a certain independence. The soundmäßig (by Uwe Lulis guitarist and producer of REBELLION) well in staged album may therefore appear to be regarded as a successful European launch. (hardy)

"Technically all is at an elevated level although it was also clear that the boys would rather concentrate on the songs, instead of self-indulgence."

8/10 Sleaze-Metal.com (Germany)

"Karma" is properly soulful which gives frontman Sean McBay a chance to prove his skills. A cross between Michael Kiske and Geoff Tate (QUEENSRYCHE) often provides goosebumps.

5.5/7 Earshot.at (Germany)

A very good and fresh band with its own musical style and, obviously, with a good future.
MetalZone.gr (Greece)

Metal-Guide.com
This a band that comes from Ireland, and practically are playing Heavy Metal, although their music is enriched from song to song with various influences, something that makes this album diverse enough, and fun to listen to. Blending enough melodies, some Progressive and classic Heavy Metal parts, they have created songs with various moods and emotions, something that is very good for the album. There are enough interesting ideas here, and the band is talented enough to explore them in the best possible way. On the other hand, there are some minor drawbacks, or things that could have done in a better way, but those don't spoil the fun. This album might sound catchy from the first moment, and might be so, but a cautious listener will reveal things hidden, and this is the true dynamic of it. There are the typical fast, in your face, songs, with a bit more simple structure, there are more complex songs as well, but no matter what style, the band is performing with the same high quality and talent. It took some time and some listenings, but this album definitely worth the while.
8/10

Informazionemetal.blogspot.com (Italy)
These are from Northern Ireland Sandstone, a band active for about six years, with this new album, "Purging the Past" (which we can review through Limb Music) The kind played by Sandstone, there is absolutely nothing for innovation, but it remains particularly stable situation between the traditional heavy metal and hard rock, showing a remarkable taste for melody and refined sound, plus a very strong influence of NWoBHM. Going straight to the point, "Purging The Past" in their complex, is a disc well managed, structured and organized in a way that is completely flawless, and why absolutely accompanied by a production that gives a special charm to the various essays that go to form The way of composing Sandstone at a first glance, may seem very complex and difficult to assimilate, but not so in reality, because this band from Northern Ireland, manages to combine technical and intense, churning out songs inspired and poetic, wrapped in melodies ecstatic harmonies and seductive, with guitars always appropriate, both in idyllic arpeggios, solos that sharp and vibrant artistic depth. Dimension separately to follow even for the excellent singer Sean McBay, which gives greater force and versatility to great songs and mesmerizing quality. Listen for example, "Karma", perhaps the highest incident of "Purging The Past", a piece with an antique flavor, that can make current Sandstone with extraordinary ease and amazing simplicity. Irrespective of the music you like, this is a work of art and absolutely deserves your attention.
8/10 Maurizio Mazzarella

Ezinealianzacds.blogspot.com (Spain)

Lately Ireland is a land that is not giving us too much musical satisfaction, but occasionally appear on stage groups as interesting as this before us. This is Sandstone, a quartet who began his musical journey in 2003 from the hand of guitarist Stevie McLaughlin and also singer Sean McBay, who later joined bassist David Mc Laughlin and drummer Paddy Flemming, to set a solid and exciting project which is now published across Europe, "Purging the Past" remixed and remastered for the occasion. It assumes the second studio work the band after "Tides Of Option" published only in The British Isles in 2006, and offers us a great job combining compositional sounds progressive, hard rock, and heavies, with large doses of melody, good taste and intensity. Names like Fates Warning, Queensryche Siam or me come to mind listening to cuts in the level of "Hiding In The Shadows" especially by the voice of Sean McBay Tony Mills CW, high, sharp, melodic, well supported by the lens Stevie's guitar work and own Sean, still looking the more lively "Fingerprints" of great chorus and instrumentation. More trenchant are shown in "Happy Birthday" overwhelming pace and compact wave Threshold, the more power and warlike "Son Of Carthage" peppered with guitars and epic choruses virgueras and torn, that harden equally prominent in "The Road To Guantanamo "more progressive and as sinister as brilliant in its arrangements. That same progressive line, but is found in most electronic "Enigma" which creates a mysterious atmosphere and space, gaining energy in other as the initial "Lies Anymore" or the quickest and contagious "DOA" with the voice Sean most nose along with some rock riffs. The densest parts we have them in the most somber and melancholy "Division" where guitars and bases hard and progressive remember Evergrey, to fall in slow, smooth rhythms with profound environmental and "Karma" with the acoustic "Y" soulful rounded with a great guitar solo, as in the intense "All Operations" that closes the work almost in key power ballad. Very good disc, with a bright sound, and that reveals an interesting combo that melodic progressive fans will have to keep track.

Metal Information

Translated from Italian

These are from Northern Ireland Sandstone, a band active for about six years, with this new album, "Purging the Past" (which we can review through Limb Music)  The kind played by Sandstone, there is absolutely nothing for innovation, but it remains particularly stable situation between the traditional heavy metal and hard rock, showing a remarkable taste for melody and refined sound, plus a very strong influence from formations mainly British imprint. Going straight to the point, "Purging The Past" in their complex, is a disc well managed, structured and organized in a way that is completely flawless, and why absolutely  accompanied by a production that gives a special charm to the various essays that go to form The way of composing Sandstone at a first glance, may seem very complex and difficult to assimilate, but not so in reality, because this band from Northern Ireland, manages to combine technical and intense, churning out songs inspired and poetic, wrapped in melodies ecstatic harmonies and seductive, with guitars always appropriate, both in idyllic arpeggios, solos that sharp and vibrant artistic depth. Dimension separately to follow even for the excellent singer Sean McBay, which gives greater force and versatility to great songs and mesmerizing quality. Listen for example, "Karma", perhaps the highest incident of "Purging The Past", a piece with an antique flavor, that can make current Sandstone with extraordinary ease and amazing simplicity. Irrespective of the kind that worship listen, this is a work of art and absolutely deserves your attention.

Rating: 8 / 10

Maurizio Mazzarella

 

ALLIANCE - CD's REVIEWS

Translated from Spanish

Lately Ireland is a land that is giving us too much musical satisfaction, but occasionally appear on stage formations as interesting as this before us. This is Sandstone, a quartet who began his musical journey in 2003 from the hand of guitarist Stevie McLaughlin and also singer Sean McBay, who later joined bassist David Mc Laughlin and drummer Paddy Flemming, to set a solid and exciting project which is now published across Europe, "Purging the Past" remixed and remastered for the occasion. It assumes the second studio work the band after "Tides Of Option" published only in The British Isles in 2006, and offers us a great job combining compositional sounds progressive, hard rock, and heavies, with large doses of melody, good taste and intensity. Names like Fates Warning, Queensryche Siam or me come to mind listening to cuts in the level of "Hiding In The Shadows" especially by the voice of Sean McBay Tony Mills CW, high, sharp, melodic, well supported by the lens Stevie's guitar work and own Sean, still looking the more lively "Fingerprints" of great chorus and instrumentation. More trenchant are shown in "Happy Birthday" overwhelming pace and compact wave Threshold, the more power and warlike "Son Of Carthage" peppered with guitars and epic choruses virgueras and torn, that harden equally prominent in "The Road To Guantanamo "more progressive and as sinister as brilliant in its arrangements. That same progressive line, but is found in most electronic "Enigma" which creates a mysterious atmosphere and space, gaining energy in other as the initial "Lies Anymore" or the quickest and contagious "DOA" with the voice Sean most nose along with some rock riffs. The densest parts we have them in the most somber and melancholy "Division" where guitars and bases hard and progressive remember Evergrey, to fall in slow, smooth rhythms with profound environmental and "Karma" with the acoustic "Y" soulful rounded with a great guitar solo, as in the intense "All Operations" that closes the work almost in key power ballad. Very good disc, with a bright sound, and that reveals an interesting combo that melodic progressive fans will have to keep track.

Legacy Magazine (Germany)

ENGLISH Translation

Fates warning are somehow lost; lost in their modern, top-heavy arrangements which still raise musical interest, but are left in the shade of their former ingenuity. But their pristinely composed spirit lives. For a long time remaining in the underground, now finally beautifully revived again in its entirety. PURGING THE PAST is poetry; the first four tracks will send fans into euphoria at full speed without breaks, and the band which makes all this possible: SANDSTONE. This ambitious quartet based around the McLaughlin brothers Stevie and David enchants in the 15 (!) tracks of this epic Debutwork. A magic mix from classical NMoBHM influences, Prog-Metal set pieces, wonderful melodies and marvelous lead breaks from the heart are a true splendor. Full of complex arrangements and time changes PURGING THE PAST has that inimitable Feeling, which Mr. Matheos developed at that time and made his trademark. And even under the genuine mass of marvelous hooks the music stands firm. Songs such as "The Road to Guantanamo" "Fingerprints" and "All Operations" are in the best traditions of this genre, and guard this band’s rank, after two decades, in the foreground. In addition there are straight parts and again and again unanimously interluded which liquid bridges between the hymn-like prog tracks round off this perfect album. The time may be still early; but the genre album of the year must measure with this inconspicuous killer work!

15 out of 15
 

 


Oh man…time moves on, let me tell you! You know it’s been a full three years ago since Derry based North Ireland’s four-piece Sandstone released their truly captivating debut album Tides Of Opinion? Seems like a long time, but then the band returns with a killer sophomore album which simply steps in the debut’s footsteps and continues what that set off to start!

I’ve no idea what the guys have been up to in all that time, whether they’ve gigged their asses off all over the British isles, whether they possibly got off those to display their splattering live sets on the European continent at all, or whether they simply stayed at home to perfect the 15 new songs they wrote for the new album in their home studio, playing only the occasional regional gig? I mean, there’s hardly any info sources on the band, and those don’t give away too much either! What I dó know however, is that the line-up went through a minor change with the replacement of Noel Thompson by new drummer Paddy “Power” Flemming.

Another thing I know is that the new album is simply gigantic! Sure, the occasional listener may be somewhat surprised by Sean McBay’s owkward vocal signature (somewhat nasal and heady), but soon enough (s)he will be drawn in by the catchy Progressive NWoBHM antics the band plays. Where the heavier songs are concerned, Sean’s rhythm guitar alone plays súch catchy tunes you can’t help but turn your head and notice…but on top of that tasty bit of pie comes the topping with even more fantastic lead play from guitarist (and occasional backing singer, I guess) Steve McLaughlin, giving the whole a truly Epic (with an “E” to emphasize the strength of it all) feel! For sure, many people coming into contact with the band’s music will be drawn in thanks to thóse songs first, only to discover that the other tracks have a degree of attraction as well, thanks to the Proggy side of the band…and Sean’s unique vocal stylings! If the listener then starts paying attention to the lyrics, he (or she) will find out that Sandstone is still working with social-political issues, and still holds a justified (at least in my eyes) grudge against the USA.

Just to give you an inkling about the compelling attractiveness of this band’s music…when time came for me to make work of this review (which is actually already a couple of days ago), I was using such stupid little things as “trouble” at work to keep me from actually beginning to write, you know…and in the meantime I was listening to the album over and over again, taking in all the details. In fact, I considered writing you a song-by-song description of the album…but eventually, and wisely (because it would’ve taken tóó long for you to get through) decided against that!

In stead, I’ll simply direct you to myspace.com/sandstonerocks, where you’ll find mp3-files of three truly great tracks off the album: anti-US’s “Road To Guantanamo” (which includes a couple of news reel samples), “Enigma” (which includes some freaky synth in the intro and again a sample within the song), and “Son Of Carthage” (a more uptempo track which takes its place amongst the best Proggy NWoBHM songs of all times – alternally, the modern production on the track puts it on a same line as Hammers Of Misfortune for me). Only three songs, which leaves out the amazing “Happy Birthday”, a song which struck me with awe at first…and when I went to listen to it again I daresay things got so emotional for me when hearing how…gréat, magnificent…the lead guitarist filled in his parts during the chorus of that song…I started to cry from pure joy!!! And that’s from listening to the music only, you know! Call me an overly emotional old fart if you like, but that track IS beautiful! To get back to our MySpace page posted songs…there’s also none of the emotionally-laden (occasionally also containing orchestrated keyboards) ballads or semi-ballads on the album, which are still worth listening to thanks to the beauty of that lead guitar!

Oh man, this album makes me so mushy inside, and strengthens me at the same time! It’s a good thing there’s not too many bands like this in the world, because now at least they stand out. Regretfully they don’t agree with what the music business promotes in general…but then the music business has been feeling the eronious ways of their money-grabbing tactics for some while now, finding an increasing number of young people preferring to (illegally) download music in stead of helping the music industry people in adding yet another zero to their ludicrously filled bank accounts! Personally, I’m of another generation, one that still prefers to have a hardcopy of any given album (and give me vinyl any day, because thát, at least, I’ll still be able to play in 30 years’ time!!!).

Shite…that’s what you get from listening to socio-politically aware bands who express themselves in a such emotional way…they have me ramblin’ on about what’s on my mind as well! Anyway…I nominated the band’s Tides Of Opinion as “Album Of The Year” in 2006, and I’m doing the same for Purging The Past in 2009. At the moment the album is even at a lonesome top, and though I realize this is only mid February, it’ll take the release an album by some of my favourite bands to find Sandstone some worthy competition in their category! You know, the life of a music journalist consists of making reviews of a darn lot of middle-of-the-road albums, some reasonably góód albums (which make year-lists), and the occasional truly wónderful album (like Purging The Past) which comes along once or twice a year only…but which make the whole tedious job worth while all over again!!!
Rating:100/100 Tony.
 


Derry’s SANDSTONE is one of those bands that are extremely difficult to classify. The band members claim to be a Melodic/Power Metal outfit, but that isn’t necessarily true; the riffs are more aggressive than smooth, there aren’t any “cheesy keys,” and the tempo is usually pretty slow compared to the blitz of Power Metal. The band shows Progressive tendencies, but not all the time. They’re heavy enough to be just straight-up Heavy Metal, but their sound is also very polished.

 

I’m going to try to explain it this way: you know how, in their old age, IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST have begun writing longer, more progressive songs? SANDSTONE is like one of those early ‘80s proto-Power Metal bands that, after twenty years, have become much wiser and more mature, but the difference is that SANDSTONE actually sounds like they’re in their prime.

 

The two songwriters, Sean McBay and Stevie McLaughlin, seem to have different tastes in ‘80s Metal; McBay prefers the American Glam scene, whereas McLaughlin loves the NWOBHM stuff. This comes across in their music, as most of the songs contain traces of GUNS N’ ROSES’ aggression mixed with the carefully structured harmonies of IRON MAIDEN. McBay’s voice is very Rob Halford-esque, which might seem like it’s contradictory to his supposed love for the Sunset Strip snarl, but he does also sound a little like Lizzy Borden (only less evil).   

 

As a matter of fact, a few of the songs on “Purging The Past” sound like they could fit on Lizzy’s most recent album “Appointment With Death,” what with their sensibility for both melody and dissonance. “Son Of Carthage” in particular has a very similar sound to “Abnormal” from “Appointment With Death.” None of the songs on “Purging The Past” can truly be called “happy,” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t pretty catchy at times.

 

“The Road To Guantanamo” takes things in a different direction. SANDSTONE displayed their anti-Bush sentiments on their previous record, and it looks like their political stance hasn’t changed much since 2006. In addition to being politically charged, “The Road To Guantanamo” is one of the best Progressive Metal songs I’ve heard in a while; its numerous tempo changes and badass, odd riffage keep things interesting throughout the entire length of the song.

 

Amazingly, this band even nails the ballads. “All Operations” has an absolutely haunting vocal melody, and while “Critical” isn’t as interesting, it has a pretty damn sweet solo.  


“Purging The Past” is an album that is excellent by virtue of its versatility; SANDSTONE picks all the right elements of Prog, Power, Melodic, and Heavy Metal that allow them to create a truly interesting sound. This record is catchy, angry, and complicated all at once, making for an incredibly unique listening experience. I know it sounds clichéd, but “Purging The Past” is one of those records that truly has everything: great songwriting, awe-inspiring musicianship, and a fresh sound that sounds like a perfect mesh of the right ideas rather than an embarrassing mishmash.
(Online March 12, 2009)
Rating:9/10
Mitch

 

REVIEWS FOR TIDES OF OPINION

 


Man, the Copro label is really off with a flying start this year! After I-Def-I (Melodic MetalCore) and Ninefold (Hardcore/ Crossover), they now tackle the Hard Rock genre with yet another winner! British quartet Sandstone only formed in 2003, but in just a short time they've managed to make themselves a favourite on the North Ireland pub and festival circuit, gaining a live reputation which even saw them tour on mainland. The success of their first EP ("Life Giving Sun") made the band hit the road even harder, and along the way the band won the top prize at the Hammersmith Battle Of The Bands. In between, they continued writing new songs for their full-length debut, which (according to the info on our promo copy) eventually got recorded in July 2004.

Personally, I find it hard to comprehend how it still took so long for the official release of this great 12-track album! You know, musically singer/ guitarist Sean McBay, guitarist Steve McLaughlin, bassist David McLaughlin, and drummer Noel Thompson bring a nice mix of groovy Hard Rock songs and sensitive ballads with a definite NwoBHM and Progressive touch, which is not exactly so original, even if extraordinarliy catchy. But what elevates the whole to unknown hights, is the really wacky vocals of the lead singer. Nasal and heady, it may take the listener a few songs to get used to, but even before you're halfway through the 12-track album, you'll find yourself goin' back to the beginning of the album to listen to the album opening songs with a new and fresh ear! His voice really IS that awkward, his rendition of the lyrics so special, you wanna listen to it over and over again! On top of which, the lyrics touch on some truely deep socio-political issues (well, mainly with the *ù´µ#-ty way the USA looks at the rest of the world as their playfield). To enhance that, they've used some truely fine sound samples, expressing beautifully how a lot of Americans look at those countries where English (or should I say 'American') is not the native language, etc... Of course, I could never go as far as to condone the behaviour of the"Children Of The Jihad" (the album closing track), even íf I can truely understand their situation!

Anyway, it's been a long time since I've heard such a truely good Hard Rock album, and for me, it deserves a top rating and nomination for my 'Best Albums Of 2006' list. I'm already in the throws of puting together a questionnaire for an e-mail interview, so look out for the result of that in the appropriate section of our website!   Rating:98/100  Tony


Without being able to suspect what was awaiting me, I put "Tides Of Opinion" in my CD player. As time was going by and I was listening to the CD, I had the feeling that I was listening to an album that I had listened too many times in the past!!! It really "reminded" me of the ehtusiasm that I had in my teens when I was listening to bands like GUNS 'N' ROSES, FAITH NO MORE, METALLICA , UGLY KID JOE and so on. It was an amazing feeling, as if time was tamed and started counting backwards again!!! However, I don't want to be misunderstood. Sandstone's music is not a copy of the previous bands, but it has a personal touch and of course it doesn't apply only to teens. Actually, if you check their lyrics, you will see that Sandstone is a group of thinking musicians and they have worries about the social and political problems of our world. Somehow they manage to keep a good balance between their emotions and logic in their songs and that's the meain reason why "Tides Of Opinion" sounds so mature!!! Oh, by the way since I was talking about influences the RIOT fans have to check out the song "Building Castles" from this album. "Tides Of Opinion" is an album that earned me as a listener, made me think and feel and cause of all this the mark could be no other than...
Rating:9/10
P.S. Hope you feel the same things with me whilst listening to the album... 

Nick "William_Kidd" Parastatidis 


Let me get a good swig off this pint of Smithwicks... ah that's nice. Okay, so Kilkenny is a bit south of Northern Ireland, but you get the gist of it. Sandstone are a rock band with an interesting socio-political view point who are equally adept at hard rocking or passionate power ballads. I'd say that these guys would stand a good chance of getting on the radio here in the States, as they've got that radio friendly hard rock sound down pat; sad to say that FM radio in the States is dominated by the Clear Channel/Infinity Broadcasting jingoistic oligarchy who would rather be ass-raped by a roaming horde of raging perverts than play music which dared to be critical of America.

I'll get back to that in a second. First the music! What these dudes excel at is writing catchy hard rock songs that have just a tinge of the prog. Singer Sean McBay has a very interesting, rather nasally voice which grew on me like fungus on the dark side of my feet. They've changed drummers since this recording, but considering the drummer's role in this band, that shouldn't make a big difference. I really like the guitar tones on this album; nice, melodic solos and some crunchy riffage complete the order. I don't listen to much hard rock these days, and I find this a refreshing change of pace. The ballads aren't quite the usual sap-fest that we've been subjected to for ages; there's enough power in them to hold my interest. Sandstone seems to easily side-step the perils that usually beset a young band; obviously, a lot of hard work went into these songs.

Back to the lyrical content, then; and I'll only speak for myself on this. I don't mind even in the slightest the criticism Sandstone is leveling at America or anywhere else ("America", "Children of the Jihad") as dissent and critical review are absolutely imperative to a healthy, functional society. I applaud the fact that Sandstone takes a stand and speaks their mind. Folks, let's not kid ourselves... there's been some wicked cruel shit going down over the last couple of decades, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. What scares me is that the "head in the sand" mentality seems so prevalent here...

Off my soapbox now, and back to enjoying the music on "Tides of Opinion"! I quite like the sped up part on "Nothing New", which also has some nice guitar work on it. "America" is another good one, with driving drums and bass and Sean's quirky vocals that kicks into a good hard rock riff. I'm not sure why I keep thinking Styx here, because that's a nebulous comparison at best, and Sandstone rock out in a different way from Eric Forman's favorite band. So there it is... a solid, enjoyable rock album with some interesting lyrics and quality songcrafting. Now where's that bartender... my pint is shamefully dry!

Standout Tracks

   America
   Nothing New
   Children of the Jihad


The band Sandstone has, since they were formed in 2003, been a big attraction in the Northern Ireland pub and festival circuit. They have through the years built a solid fanbase and are known for high energetic live performances. After releasing their successful EP, Life Giving Sun, the band hit the road. Sandstone won the top prize at the Hammersmith battle of the bands. The band constantly wrote songs for the debut, and they recorded about 30 songs in Stevie`s home studio. Twelve of the songs was picked for the debut and the band printed a few hundred first in 2004, to sell at gigs, before Casket Music decided to release the debut Tides Of Opinion, earlier this year.
The Irish band Sandstone are, in my opinion, doing it very well with their debut album Tides Of Opinion. Musically the band play a mixture of melodic metal, heavy metal and NWOBHM, with influences from bands and artists like Iron Maiden, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, Dream Theater, Skid Row, Guns'n'Roses, Bon Jovi and Queensryche. The album opens with the song America, who the band also have shoot a video clip for. I like the slow start of this song with its fine mood and good vocals from Sean. When the song kicks off it gets a metal oriented style with good riffs and great rhythm. I also find the instrumental part in this song very pleasing with a great guitarsolo from Stevie! Atrophy is built up with good riffs, a fine melodic tune with nice melodic vocals. The song lyrically deals about human instinct for nihilism and self destruction. So Pretty is a really nice ballad with great guitarwork. I like the mood in the song and the fine singing from Sean. The song tells a story about a conversation between an abandoned child and his/her estranged mother. Building Castles is a strong song with much influences from Iron Maiden, the melodic verses mixed with the uptempo Iron Maiden-like parts take this song to a high level. I really dig the next song, Sometime Soon, it`s one of my favorites! The switches in this song between the heavy riffs over to the nice melodic verses and the slow parts in the song is awesome! Also the guitarsolo at the end of the song gives me goosebumbs all over! Just Forget has a more modern rock touch, but still very melodic and with a really good strong chorus part. Unbroken is a beautiful power ballad, with a strong melody and chorus. Nothing New gives me a feel of the big bands in the 80`s like Guns `n`Roses, Faster Pussycat and Warrant, the style of the song takes me back to this time and the chorus gets stuck in your head! Nemesii is a more straight forward melodic hardrock oriented tune with good riffs and good melody. The Fall is a more pop/rock oriented ballad, but what a fine song this is! And not unlike the biggest hits from Savage Garden. Couldabeen is another of my favorite songs, a very strong melodic hardrock oriented tune with a rememberable chorus. Also the instrumental part in this and especially the guitarsolo is perfect! Children Of The Jihad deals about the war on terror. I like the style of this song where the band show most of their sides in one song and also the different tempo changes throughout this song is very nice. I will say that Sandstone has a very bright future after having listened to their debut Tides Of Opinion, and I`m very sure that this is a band that will be recognized all over the world very soon for their great work!! 
Rating: 90/100 Arne Asbølmo


HOLLAND
The Irish band Sandstone is in existence only from 2003 onwards when singer/guitarist Sean McBay and guitar player Steve McLaughlin started to write and record some songs together in Steve's home studio. These activities led to the release of Sandstone's debut EP 'Life Giving Sun'. One year later, in the autumn of 2004, the twelve track album 'Tides Of Opinion' was released.

It surprises me a little bit that it has taken so long before this band got picked up by a label, because Sandstone is quite a talented band. They bring a mix of groove hard rock songs and sensitive ballads, which can not be called very original but are certainly of  high quality. Strongest asset of the band is the ability to write a good tune, which are very catchy and played well. Furthermore vocalist Sean has a good voice (you might have to get used to it at first) and is guitarist Steve playing some nice, convincing riffs. It seems that the band is working on a follow-up album and I'm convinced that they can count on some more interest from different record companies. With great songs like opening track 'America', 'Sometime Soon' and 'Unbroken' in the pocket they have a pretty solid base for the future. My first acquaintance with Sandstone has been a very positive one, that's for sure.  
Rating: 78/100 Sjak


Until now Casket/Copro CDs were sure to be sent out to other reviewers, because during all these years only the album “Hagridden” from LIPID appealed to me (and that was three years ago), so it was high time for another album and I have chosen the debut album of the band SANDSTONE from Northern Ireland. The métier of this quartet from Derry is Hard Rock, so less modern as the usual releases of the Copro bands.

 

Founded in 2003, SANDSTONE are a very young band, but a band that already in their first year of existence recorded and EP and a full length album, but it took another two years until a label grabbed them and now brings their debut through a record company among the people. Originality is not the strength of the band, for that this genre is too populated, but that does not necessarily mean that “Tides Of Opinion” is a rip-off, cause Sean McBay, the vocalist and the mastermind of the band, has not only a good hand for catchy hooks and melodies, but also a slight nasal voice which brands the songs.

 

Musically they definitely have radio-potential, cause songs like the very good, varied and intense “America”, which has some critical lyrics to it (which might reduce its chances on the US stations, hehe), the brisk “Building Castles” endowed with some good melodies, the good ballad “Unbroken”, the catchy “Nemesii” as well as “Children of The Jihad” with its oriental touch, are definitely catchy enough to appeal to a larger audience.

 

Of course there are also some average songs as well and the production doesn’t always has the power to drive the songs forth, but who likes it a bit commercial, then he should find something worth listening to on “Tides Of Opinion”, the above-mentioned songs are worth it. (Online September 23, 2006 ) Rating 6.5/10


GERMANY

High points of the album are the likely hit, full Groover "Couldabeen" (with Thin Lizzy twin leads in the Chorus), with it's interesting arrangement and varied linking riffs "America" (reminiscent of the Manilla Road song "Necropolis") and the breathtaking eastern-epic "Children OF The Jihad" (absolute high point, which salutes Maiden epics like "To Tame A Land"). If more of the songs on this debut were of this caliber, I'd be giving out top marks, rather than tenderly scratching at the 7 point mark.
Fans of this genre will find http://www.sandstonerocks.com definitely worth checking.
Rating:6/10 - PM



Tides of Opinion is an accomplished debut that pays tribute to the band’s determination and diligence. The tracks are honed to perfection through constant gigging, and there is a depth to their lyrics often missing from debut albums. A video has already been made for lead track America, an attack on The States’ bloodthirsty political stance. Other tracks instantly stand out as future singles – ballads Building Castles and The Fall have an upbeat pulse, which will appeal to a wide audience, whilst Unbroken tenderly deals with personal infidelity. The confident vocals are backed by a tight band, the atmosphere is almost tangible. This is epic; a rock sound from the classic era tinged with a LostProphets metal edge and the balladeering of the Goo Goo Dolls. Sandstone clearly have a political agenda - indeed their sampling of speeches is suggestive of political forerunners the Manics – and their universal choice of subject matter is commendable. 

The attention-grabbing sleeve art gives a flavour of Sandstone’s energetic live performances that, coupled with this superb set of songs, suggests they are not to be missed in 2006. 

Review by: Emma Collins 


ITALY
Review by Carl Paleari 
Not a bad debut album from Sandstone! The Irish group have made a beautiful CD of melodic hard rock, that often goes beyond rock into AOR. Sure, the band is not tipsy on originality, but they have striven to re-create the styles of hard “n” heavy Northern Europe with a melancholic sensibility and decadence that brings to mind bands like Placebo, also thanks to the unusual voice of Sean McBay. However “Tides Of Opinion”, although not flawless, succeeds on imposing itself on the listener, thanks to a good refinement in songwriting and a handful of effective songs, especially in the more intimate episodes. The rhythms remain nearly always on calm speeds, with a great abundance of ballads and slow sections on the bill such as “So Pretty”, “Sometime Soon” and “Unbroken”, while when the boys push on the accelerator they don't always find their comfort zone, therefore while “Atrophy” or “Building Castles” hit the spot, songs such as “Nemesii” or “Couldabeen” leave me yawning. Absolutely unimpeachable though, is the beginning and the end of the disc, that is “America” and “Children Of The Jihad”: this is mature composition that succeeds in being hard and controversial without loosing its air of sorrow; the second track while equally effective, faces a delicate and important topic with the aid of exotic Arabic scales and tones. All in all Sandstone is perhaps a band still unripe, but they surely deserve a chance. The first step has been made: keep an eye on these boys because if they persevere and don't lie still, their abilities are all in order to emerge as they must. 
Rating: 6.5/10


HOLLAND
Metal from Ireland I do not encounter everyday, but here is a favorable spirited Irish band. This 4-piece play a mix of progressive rock and metal and they do it with style. The opening number acts as a kind of calling card that makes a strong impression and immediately reflects what the CD has in store. From the artwork and photos on this CD I was expecting pure metal heads, but the music is less heavy, yet rock solid. Singer Sean McBay has a strikingly nasal voice, that stands out well with the guitar. I can hear hints of Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Survivor, and Dream theatre. I like this CD, however, and I am convinced that in other decades it would have been more successful.  
Rating: 82/100 By Rico


FRANCE
What, of the hard rock on W-Fenec!!! 

Listen Up, welcome to the hair-metal of the twenty first century. With Tides of opinion, Sandstone have pinned down this sound. The magical epic, “America” begins this album with all its power, an acoustic intro with a light and open horizon, and a melody worthy of great spaces. This song owes much to the voice of singer Sean McBay, while in the remainder of the album his voice becomes a little nasally at times. “America” alternates between ballade, prog-rock and hard rock in linear passages which rise in power via some syncopated grooves to a shredder guitar solo, Sandstone does not forget the stereotypes right before taking it back to the refrain.

On the other hand is the rather standard, “Atrophy” where the vocals immediately lose their charm, (think of a clothes peg wedged on the nose), the song is broken up by good dynamics. Sandstone excels at mixing electric guitar and acoustic guitar, for transitions and atmospheres of the most beautiful effect, the hit “America” being the most beautiful proof. 

Sandstone present a pleasing collection of songs, “Building castles” although not original is effective, some calm songs where the melody floats above open strings, The dreamy “Couldabeen” or the aggression of “Sometime soon”, and songs like the epic “Just forget”, the traditional metal feel of “the Nothing new” and finally “Children of the Jihad”, the twin counterpart of “America”. Thus Janus closes the chapter as it opened, as the guitars mirror the first song and the group follows, this time with a slight Eastern hook and more energized feel. “Children of the Jihad” puts a little sun in the sky of Tides of opinion. 


GERMANY
In the past three years SANDSTONE have probably played in every Pub in Northern Ireland . However with their beer-blessed Folk mentality the quartet is probably as far away as the Dubliners from an advertising contract for razor-blades. 

"Tides OF Opinion" is an eclectic boxing match between melodic hardrock (' The Fall ' an extreme example which could easily pass for Bon Jovi's latest ballad) and NWOBHM Vibes, while above all Stevie McLaughlins singing Lead guitar knows how to please again and again. Good beginnings mind you, but altogether much is still undetermined.
Rating:8/10


Irish four-piece Sandstone, make their debut with Tides of Opinion. The band have been in existence for a few years on the Irish circuit and, according to reports, have achieved reasonable successful, winning a battle-of-the-bands along the way.

Sandstone play slightly progressive hard rock with hints of metal, and do this with reasonable success. This debut contains twelve tracks which are all of a considerable level. Immediately striking is the gnawing voice of singer/guitarist Sean McBay, who strongly reminds me of Brian Molko, he has the same heady, slightly nasal voice of the placebo front man. Now such a voice sound is certainly not everybody's cup of tea, but McBay's vocals fit very well with the music. It gives the band something of a slightly progressive rock atmosphere which certainly does them no harm. 

The material itself keeps it in the middle of (hard) rock and prog, but then without losing sight of the songs, display some exorbitant musical passages. The songs are good, and I must confess that with opener America the band plays it's strongest trump card. On the other hand the beautiful, semi-acoustic The Fall and oriental sounding Children or the Jihad are also strong. 

Sandstone do not make their debut with this disc absolute. The songs are not yet ingenious enough, but the basis is there and with the right break. It will not astonish me if, over a year or three we must seriously take into account Sandstone. Never-the-less an interesting release. 
Rating: 72/100


ITALY
Trial Technical  Masterpiece
"Tides of Opinion" has entered my CD player (or better, my computer) nearly drowned in a tide of others demos that at first look could seem more attractive. Instead, the debut-album of this most sensational Northern Irish band has risked being one of the surprises of the year.

"Tides of Opinion", in fact opens with the noteworthy "America", a good piece of hard rock penetrated with a melancholic vein and embellished with a mixture of impetuous composition, and enforced immaturity and to level of production and recording that often render this debut special. But it is the next track "Atrophy" that rises the doubt head-on of being something outside of the norm: riding between Nickelback and Placebo, Sandstone let fly a piece that is imprinted in your head from the first listen, a mid-tempo rocking-giant loaded with restlessness and "nervousness" that makes you want to put the song in an infinite loop. Unfortunately, the successive songs arrive and are 'only normal' "So Pretty" and "Building Castles" and transform "Tides of Opinion" from a potential masterpiece to simply a good album, it still introduces however some valid moments, such as "Just Forget", "Unbroken" and "Couldabeen", with the only side doubt as far as the style, too often fossilized with mid-tempos and ballads, however well composed and arranged. 

Pulling the sums, however, "Tides of Opinion" is a good disc of hard melodic rock, and it represents a good starting point for a band that can and must still grow.
Rating:7/10 by Marco Banfi


THE NETHERLANDS
Here we have a very strong band from Northern Ireland playing a sort of updated classic 80s Melodic Metal sound, which reminds me of a mix between STORMWITCH and MAD MAX, with a bit of MARSHALL LAW and BLACK ROSE type of influences added. 12 songs are included and everything sounds very professional, so this is one of those bands to watch out for in the near future. The vocal work is strong, while the guitar work sounds like it used to sound in the 1980s, which is melodic guitar work with classic metal riffs here and there, but still enough room for calmer acoustic guitar parts (very much in classic 70s SCORPIONS/THIN LIZZY style). The songs have melodic verses, strong hooks and catchy memorable choruses, which sounds best during the songs “Atrophy”, “So pretty” (a very nice almost late 80s US Melodic Rock sounding Power Ballad), “The fall” and “Nemesii” (classic 80s melodic rocker). Also recommended to fans of PRETTY MAIDS, PRAYING MANTIS, so classy 80s melodic metal all the way here!
 
Rating: 8.3/10


ITALY
Irish band Sandstone record their debut the album follow-up to the the EP "Life Giving Sun". "Tides Of Opinion" is the fruit of the band's passion for melodic hard rock, flavored with 80s NWOBHM. The talented singer Sean McBay, assisted by the McLaughlin siblings and Noel Thompson, give life to a sound that, although not innovating, is rich in ideas and songs that are all of the best level.

Obviously being a melodic AOR album in the foreground are splendid power ballads like "So Pretty" and "Unbroken", but fear not there are good melodies throughout even in heavier tracks like "Nothing New", "Atrophy" and last track "Children Of The Jihad" (truly great lyrics). 

The tracks do not lack variety "Sometime Soon", contrasts between heavy riffing at the beginning of the song, and a more dreamy mood towards the end, as the guitars dampen their ardor and begin to emphasize the splendid voice of Sean. 

It is not possible moreover to omit opener "America", with lyrics strongly critical of Yankee politics, in which the band reaches the climax of the song with a perfect balance between melody and rhythm, a varied structure and a chorus that once in your head does not go away, and with a decidedly progressive end.

Excellent songs from a band, with just the right balance between "knowing how to play" and "knowing how to compose". "Tides Of Opinion" is first rate work from a talented band, one I'd bet we'll hear more of in the near future. 

Rating: 7.5/10
Luigi Schettino


Full of guitar effected riffory, throbbing rhythm section and power vocals, Sandstone have reproduced/captured that popular rock sound that the USA stole from the Brits in the eighties with accomplished musical aplomb.  Not only do they turn on the excitement, they have got an original sound to go with it, winning accolades at every live gig for their accomplished performances this Northern Irish rock outfit release their debut album 'Tides Of Opinion'.  The album opens with the lamentful tune 'America' and its politically charged lyrics, in the second song 'Atrophy' the band keep the feel of power ballad but increase the axe work to a fitting quantity, the third track brings forth a classic power ballad with perfection of vocals, lyrics and emotion dripping guitars now the band have displayed their intellectual nous the album move on with track four, 'building castles' increases the tempo and beefs up the skins while the guitars start to twinkle and shine, song five continues the hard rocking melodies with squealing guitars and head nodding rhythms, while Sean stretches his vocals on 'Sometime soon'.  Sandstone turn up the volume on the guitars for Track six, 'Just Forget' as they display their song writing talent with another twist in style, and so it continues throughout the rest of the twelve tracks of melodic hard rock.  Shuffle along Darkness because someone else wants to join the table and feed.
Published: February 9th 2006   
Rating:4/5  Rock3


An unusual release from Casket, moving away from their more extreme musical output into the realms of hard rock. And all the better for it.
SandStone have been winning plaudits as well as battle of the band competitions since forming in 2003, and the Northern Irish combo have come up trumps here. Starting in melancholy mode with "America" they slowly turn the screws, raising the tempo, drawing you in, until there's nowhere to escape.
The mid tempo power ballad seems to be their forte as a lot of the material follows the template standardised in the late eighties and followed by rock acts ever since. To be fair, it takes a while for the album to gel but you can picture the lighters in the air for "So Pretty", their first bona fide classic song.
They don't ramp it up often enough for me, but when they do, as on "Sometime Soon", they show that they can rock with the big boys. If you're looking for flaws, the production doesn't have the deftness of touch that only a huge amount of money can bring and the vocal of Sean McBay are going to divide opinion fairly sharply in an Axl Rose type divide.
Another gem comes along in the shape of "Nothing New" which could easily slip into one of my homemade eighties sleaze compilations with "The Fall" going all Bon Jovi on your ass, before track 12 brings the big political statement with "Children Of The Jihad". Dangerous territory, but if anyone is allowed to talk about religion it's going to be an Irish band.
Not at all what I was expecting from a Casket release but one of the most pleasant surprises this year.  
Rating:4/5 Metal4Life


DENMARK
A small note from our head editor was attached to this CD: “Warning! Awful” it read. Now there are two possibilities, the first one is that the note was about another CD or secondly, there must be something seriously wrong with his ears, because I couldn’t find anything wrong on this record, on the contrary. I was a bit surprised when I discovered this quartet hails from Derry, Northern Ireland because the first song, “America” sounds very… American and Sean Mc Bay’s vocal melodies have something American about them. At times he reminds me of Live’s Ed Kowalczyk and Robbi Robb of Tribe After Tribe. But SandStone is quite good in delivering heavy rock with touches of metal in a style not that far from what was usual in the first half of the eighties. Guitarist Stevie McLaughlin pulls out some decent riffs, isn’t bad in playing a few decent solo’s and is responsible for the heaviest compositions while McBay’s songwriting contributions are a very enjoyable example of pop metal like “Sometime Soon” and “Nothing New”, with catchy hooks and excellent singing. Now don’t you run away because there’s a strong pop influence now and then, because Tygers Of Pan Tang released a very good album called “The Cage” which was actually pop metal, and that was in 1982! “Tides Of Opinion” was recorded as long ago as Summer 2004 and meanwhile the foursome is busy with the follow-up. They really don’t need to change a lot, there’s a need for a better production and maybe some songs would benefit if they were just a bit shorter, with less instrumental passages. You can find the video for the magnificent “America” and a few demo’s of new songs on the band’s website. Just do it, these nice chaps deserve it. 
Rating:77/100   Rudi Claeys


ARGENTINA
SANDSTONE formed in 2003 in Northern Ireland and released EP "Life Giving Sun". Soon after they recorded their debut 12 track CD "Tides of opinion" and have sent me a copy to review. The album displays numerous influences mainly from Hard/melodic Rock to passages much more oriented towards Heavy Metal, held together by the riffs of Stevie McLaughlin (guitar). One can even notice certain touches in the style of the last MEGADETH Album (listen to "America" and "Children of the Jihad") Here the melodies are what matters and McBay seems to be a vocalist totally adapted to the proposal. His voice has more tones of pop than hard rock. Add to that strong, progressive segments and you get a feel for Sandstone's crossroads of styles. I will call attention to the large number of ballads present on this CD... In spite of this, all is very good and catchy with particularly nice touchs on the guitar from Stevie. The voice also contributes and are most attractive in "So pretty", "Unbroken" and "The fall". On the other hand, the Hard Melodic Rock is on the verge of AOR during "Sometime soon", "Just forget" and "Nemesii". There are cuts oriented towards Heavy Metal ("Building castles"), although totally assisted by a very melodic catchy chorus, while Stevie gives us some marvelous riffs. The others are pure Hard Rock ("Nothing new", "Couldabeen"). In "Atrophy" they have an air of pop. In conclusion, the band's sound offers something original and could become an interesting proposal within the European Rock scene.
Rating: 4/5  Pablo B.


Sandstone comes straight out of Derry, Northern Ireland and have released “Life Giving Sun” EP (2003) and now the full length cracker “Tides Of Opinion”. The guys behind Sandstone are: Sean McBay - Vocals/Guitar, Steve McLaughlin - Guitar, David McLaughlin - Bass, Noel Thompson – Drums.

If you still use to have some posters with some epic rock bands from the 80´s or a few NWOBHM albums under your pillow, then wake up and track down a copy of  “Tides OF Opinion” right now before they sell out. It's always a happy moment to receive a surprise (it's not so easy anymore) and as you probably have noticed we try to write and find these new up-coming bands out there, just to guide you into new fields and dimensions of hard rock AOR and metal, not just the ordinary established bands. The Dream Zones pages will give you cool stuff like Sandstone and many others, so keep on reading (sorry, I almost got lost there). Sandstone give you some stronger moments of what we like most in the rock/metal school and it smells quality long way. These guys have the guts to take their style towards new horizons and I can hardly wait to see what they will come up with next time. NWOBHM – The old school metal through the eyes of Sandstone. Touching, sensitive and brutal at the same time. Sandstone makes you listen and the Sandstone album dig its way deep down into your rock soul.   
Rating:
80/100  Johnny Forslund


Debut album from Northern Irish band and it's a class slice of song-writing and playing. It's rock but it's not heavy, it's powerful but so well arranged that the power becomes part of the whole feel of the songs, to such an extent that it's all one big sea of anthemic guitars and soaring guitar solos, the twin lead and rhythm guitars providing expansive horizons and high-flying solos. A track such as 'So Pretty' is an anthemic ballad that features a strong vocal from the lead singer whose Americana-styled voice gives the songs a sense of flight as he delivers the lines with a certain mix of yearning, bitterness, angst and passion. Then you get a song such as the lyrically aware 'Building Castles' which, while still being a grade A slice of song-writing, this time positively flies along on a wave of twin guitar riffs, surging rhythms and economic soloing. Sometimes, as on the storming riffing on the FFAF-esque 'Sometime Soon', the vocals seem to be a tad high for the arrangement but once you've played it a couple of times, it all makes sense and you really start getting into the thing. Most of the songs occupy a hinterland between nu-metal electro-acoustic power ballads and rocking & riffing slices of tungsten-strength indie-rock attack, with the lead vocalist sounding remarkably like the guy out of Placebo throughout much of the album's songs. An accomplished debut, it does resemble a heavy metal Placebo on a few occasions, and overall, the strength of it lies in a set of rock-solid quality song-writing ad arranging. One to look out for. 
Artist Of The Month


FRANCE
At first sight I expected nothing sensational of SANDSTONE, a young Irish group formed in 2003 foolhardy enough to have an album sleeve very reminiscent of DREAM THEATER, "Metropolis Pt II: Scenes From A Memory "... I was thus already off to a bad start with some not very flattering comments but I was too quick to judge and changed my opinion on hearing the first few tracks of "Tides of Opinion"! 

Once more, here is an album which is more than it appears and reveals to be if not a total success, at least a very good surprise! Between US metal and hard rock with heavy tints of NWOBHM ala LILLIAN AXE, "Tides Of Opinion" rests mainly on the nasal voice of its singer and principal song writer (with the guitarist) which will charm fans of PRETTY BOY FLOYD and MÖTLEY CREW and will no doubt aggravate everyone else. Even though its sometimes too much, Sean Mc Bay has a likeable voice and a knack for melodic choruses, not to mention the amount of ballades or power ballads (six out of twelve songs) typical of the genre (US metal I mean) and thus could become genuinely unstoppable hits on American radio! 

Unfortunately, SANDSTONE suffers from a problem of identity which is likely to penalize them and to confine them to local success; this group must absolutely find its way and forge a personality if they don't want to be catalogued as a simple substitute. "Tides Of Opinion" is despite everything a very promising album containing good and sometimes excellent songs, and there is no doubt that when the group digests its influences and the singer lets himself go instead of entrenching himself behind vocal gimmicks, nothing will prevent them from exploding...


Am I re-living the New wave of British Heavy Metal era?! Coz SandStone sure do bring out old memories of when I bought my first albums with Tygers of PanTang,Diamond Head and Mamas Boys etc.
Even though it's been 25 years since everybody's was running to the stores for a new record with their favorite NWOBHM band,this Northern Ireland quartet plays this style of timeless metal very well.
Last year was a very successful year for the band but the icing on the cake was when Sandstone were declared winners of Hammersmith Battle of the Bands in London.
Rating: 3/5 Kaj


Sandstone are a classic style rock band hailing from Ireland that are already becoming major favourites in pub and club outlets all over their homeland, gaining new fans while constantly riding on their high reputation for their energy and tight performances. The band has a diverse catalogue of musical styles under their belt, demonstrating maturity and musical flexibility that clearly works. After a successful debut, 'Tides Of Opinion' is a classic rock follow-up put together with confidence, skill and power that is sure to become more successful than the last and will expose Sandstone to the limelight.

The opening track 'America' has a slightly modal introduction, starting with a repeating riff resonating with a message of warning. Cynical and bitter, the vocal melodies quietly join in as the bass gently follows the root notes of the riff providing a warm yet sinister undertone. The first half of the music remains melancholy and desolate in it's approach, the bitter lyrics the main focal point of the music until the guitars kick in and lend a heavier vibe to the music, beating life into the ballad-like track. The guitar riffs have a raw and razor-like quality to them that is perfectly suited to the defiant theme of the melody and drive the track along, into a moving solo that outlines the melody and moves into improvisation before shifting back into the repeating riffs used in the chorus. What is interesting thus far about Sandstone's music is a certain retainment of Irish folk values within their rock. This was faintly evident within 'America' and is very prominent in 'Atrophy' which is the following track. While they do not use any of the traditional instruments commonly associated with Irish folk, they do take influence from the story-like ballad structure of folk songs and make use of it readily also incorporating themes of loss, faith, tragedy and hope within their tracks; themes of which may commonly be found within Irish music. The fast paced jig structure is also often used in the choruses that Sandstone uses, giving their music real energy and life. This may be seen particularly in 'Building Castles' and 'Atrophy' which have the energy and feeling to their choruses, guitar riffs packed with a real drive that push the music along, fully intending to swamp you in their sound.

Of course there is a more serious side to Sandstone and aside from their gentle Indie style; they can really pull off real angst and emotive rock with a knife sharp edge. 'Just Forget' is a true testament to this, full of bitter regret and cynicism with rolling riffs and drum fills so typical of the sound of 'Funeral For A Friend'. As with most of the tracks on this album, the message is really carried in the sharp and direct approach to the lyrics, the band define and embellish the melody itself but it's the words that really hit home with this band. 'Just Forget' outlines a life full of mistakes and failures in life, the path to slowly going mad unfolding before a recollection of lies and deceit.

It is easy to see from this record why Sandstone have been as successful as they are, with easily accessible melodies and catchy, energetic tracks mixed occasionally with the odd serious approach and you have a record that is instantly popular with the majority of people. It may not be anything ultimately different or special but it is an album that will appeal to the majority of the population.
First published Mar 9 by Alana King of Roomthirteen.com


There must be something in the air…Following on from great recent releases from Triggerman & The Dead Heroes Club comes the debut album from local rockers SANDSTONE, a band who've been relentlessly pursuing their own rock vision share the fruits of their labor on disc with us.
First off ,this is a great Rock album.  No ifs or buts, trust me on this one.
Opening track America will be familiar to anyone who bought the 1st Rockers Reunion CD. It's a fantastic track & a great way to open an album. Right up there with any new rock song I've heard this year. Next track Atrophy is another cracking tune which gets better on repeated listening.
So Pretty which follows takes the pace down a bit & is a well crafted song featuring some great lead playing from Stevie McLaughlin. Building Castles reminds me of Iron Maiden musically which is no bad thing. This one rocks out with a great drum sound & tight playing from the whole band. The rhythm section are really locked together tight.
Sometime Soon kicks in with a riff that reminds me of the Black Album before changing to a more 80s rock sound. The catchy chorus could help this tune get some radio play. Just under the 3 minute mark they drop things right down & it works well before they go heads down into the solo. Things kick in again before the end with plenty of riffing to the end of the song.
Nothing New is another song with an 80s feel. This song has some great guitar work throughout. Unbroken is a slow song with a Skid Row feel. Another good one to add to the list
No More reminds me of Bon Jovi. It's short at just over 3 minutes & doesn't fully work for me.
My Disguise is a slightly different sound. Very catchy. Could easily be a hit single with airplay & a video. The Last One has some good bits but doesn't do it for me.
The Fall could have come off any recent Bon Jovi album. This really is a fantastic track with hit written all over it. If this had appeared on the New Jersey Cowboy's last album it would have been a hit no problem.
Couldabeen is the last track on the album & brings things to an end in fine fashion. Currently tied with America & The Fall for my favorite track on the album it's long at over 6 minutes but not boring as some long songs tend to be.
Throughout the album the playing & singing is top notch but special mention has to go to Stevie who is fantastic. He really is a very underrated guitarist who shows his class throughout.
The quality of songwriting is very high & a great production job brings the quality to the fore. Produced locally as well so you can shove your expensive studios where the sun don't shine! 
Rating:8/10  Ben Burns


These Derry lads are very busy at the moment, recording their debut album, due out sometime this year. The tracks we have chosen as downloads are from a 5 track promo CD, called "Tides Of Opinion" that the group just recorded in March(04). One of the tracks, "America", was inspired by the world events that have followed on from September 11th, and by all accounts has been very well received locally for SANDSTONE. The lyrics are very well put, and show off the groups lyrical appeal very well. We have included the lyrics below, for you guys to make up you're own minds. You can find the lyrics, from the other two tracks, on the bands website.

Throughout all of the material we got to listen to, all lyrics are emotive, wrote from the heart. The group consists of, Chris Towe on drums, David Mc Laughlin on bass, his brother Stevie on Guitar, and Sean Brown on vocal duty. SANDSTONE formed in January 2003, and have already earned a loyal following on the northern college circuit, and in their home town, Derry.

Their style has a huge taste of that Rock sound, only found locally in Ireland. All tracks have a dramatic side creating that epic vibe, and the lads are not afraid to get stuck in to the solo's, the guitar leads the way nicely in the right places in most of their current material. They don't seem to rely too heavily on verses/chorus' and layouts are not what you would expect from tracks that you could easily describe as quite ballady on first listen. There's some very strong hooks, that wouldn't seem out of place in the closing credits of a Hollywood movie, etc.

This is epic movie music to us, and the best example of this, is our personal favorite, "Unbroken". But we have to say that, "America" does seem to be the one most favored by folks over the net, which we found out on our travels. Both take you on a Meatloaf-esque journey, fast and furious, and, sweet and subtle all in one track. There seems to be so many phrases (in music terms), but it all leads healthily to the next part. "Traffic", the third track we have chosen starts off with a v. nice synth, quite mellow, and then opens up with the trademark powerful guitars that SANDSTONE include in all their material.

We think all 3 tracks have energy and vitality sprinkled all over them, and cant wait to hear the album, when its done. We will let you know if we get any news on that. The lads are also busy gigging over the next few months. We have a list of some of their upcoming few gigs down below, and again, there is a full list of the lads gigs for the year on their website. Welcome to the sound of SANDSTONE !