Duos seem to be quite fashionable of late. With Death From Above 1979′s churning dance-punk return, Royal Blood‘s insane rise in popularity and ’68 resurrecting the chaotic mental-state of early-Nirvana bedlam – it really is the era of the two-piece. Adding to the growing pile is Stolen Nations – comprised of Jon Terrey of The Chariot and Kris Rochelle of Listener. Similarities to Scogin’s ’68 are going to be drawn, but for the most part, Stolen Nations are a different prospect. Less guitar-flaying destruction, broken amps and splintered drumming – Smoke Signals, their debut EP, falls somewhere between a grunge-punk version of Queens of the Stoneage, with elements of swirling, psychedelica and getting nicely toasted.
Opening track Coupe De Grace is a moody, slovenly shift of heavily de-tuned riffage that bends and rolls at an uncomfortable gait around the methodical drumbeats. Terrey’s echoing vocals are oddly cocooned in a shell of distortion and he seems to be channelling elements of Guy McKnight from The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and Truckfighters-desert-drawl. When Coupe De Grace shifts into gear, it’s a stumbling attack of angry, howling post-rock guitar shrieks that twist and bend under the hi-hat drenched drum patterns.
Bells is the closest track to ’68‘s sound – morose and brooding, it’s driven by the jangling guitar, tambourine hits, alcohol-scorched vocal utterances and a desert-rock scratch of desperation. Terrey sounds like the weight of the world is crushing down on him; his muttered, Mark Lanegan-drawl is mournful and full of remorse.
Opening track Coupe De Grace is a moody, slovenly shift of heavily de-tuned riffage that bends and rolls at an uncomfortable gait around the methodical drumbeats..
Josh Homme wants his creepy voice back guys. If I told you Sometime Never fell off the first QOTSA album, you’d wholeheartedly agree – not that that’s a bad thing. Terrey’s vocal inflection on Sometime Never takes an almost hypnotic monotone shift, lost within a froth of reverberation, it’s in stark contrast to the heavyweight, dense-metallic rock attack that spills from his guitar and Rochelle’s consistently tight drumming. This is raw, stoner-rock ‘n roll fed through a machine of dread and it’s bloody brilliant, especially the drugs-trip mid-section of bending, Doors-style psychedelic rock.
Closing track, Pipe Wrench – Pipe Dream continues down the winding pathway of enfolding, atmospheric post-rock haze, before launching head-first into a riff-drenched wall of crunching power that builds and builds until the record skip and what plays out is some bizarre vaudeville music and the sound of snoring. The end.
Smoke Signals is a compact, ever-changing beast – despite being only four tracks long, Stolen Nations generate a heady mix – drummer Kris Rochelle attacks his kit with punishing precision, whilst vocalist/guitarist Jon Terrey strangles melody after uncomfortable melody from his guitar, without a care if it’s even in tune. For fans of ‘68, Queens of the Stone Age, Megachurch and early Instruction; Stolen Nations are ones to watch and are already planning their next release for 2015 – ones to keep a bloodshot eye on.