Have you ever wanted to go back in time and recapture the feeling of when you first hear an album that you just know will be groundbreaking. Something, like, say Mastodon’s Remission? The first time you hear the sonic onslaught of “March of the Fire Ants” or that huge riffage that begins “Mother Puncher”? Listening through the latest from France’s Stonebirds conjures all those feelings and more. Inducing chills and the hairs on the back of your neck to automatically stand up, Collapse And Fail is a blistering metallic tour-de-force of modern Sludge, Doom, Progressive and everything that’s good in between.
From the instant “Only God” kicks in, a wave of leviathan-like riffage washes over and utterly consumes as the song continues to build towards a feverish pitch for almost eight minutes driven by a voice that switches between raspy and reaching one moment, smooth and serene the next.
“Stay Clean” is similarly monolithic with frenetic guitars from Fañch and a barrage of Antoine’s drums with vocals alternating from a hearty growl and an anthemic croon in a nifty call and response amidst hypnotic riffs which taunt and tantalize, undercut by Sylvain’s bass thump until the groove-filled hymnal of a spiritual reckoning ends it all.
“Down” slows it all, ahem, down for the first time with spacey plucking and ethereal vocals and then “Turn Off The Light” echoes on through the darkness before a dirge-like wall of noise enters the sonic fray. If you ever needed your Australasia-era Pelican to have vocals on it then this song right here is your jam.
“Fade Away” grinds on in the most perfect way adding layer upon layer of a densely ominous soundscape before Antoine’s battering takes the song on a decidedly faster route with gorgeous vocals that echo the dual nature when paired with a gruff delivery. Ending the album, the title track is Sludge Rawk at its’ finest rolling on like molasses with serenity-shattering shrieks before shifting into this almost peaceful yet primal breakdown and then returning to the Heavy as an unholy union of guitars, bass, and drums join forces for a blistering final act.