[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
TRACK LIST: 1. Babe 5:40 2. Drown 3:45 3. Comet 8:00 4. Scream 6:22 5. What's Going On 4:27 6. Walking 4:58 7. Alone 7:11 LINEUP: Per Kenneth Hauan – keyboards; vocals Per Egil Larsen – guitars; vocals Aarstein Tislevoll – vocals; bass Arvid Havro – drums With: Ole Jacon Hystad – saxophone
Prolusion. The Norwegian band YEARSTONES appears to have been formed sometime around 2011, although the available sources aren't too clear on that specific point. "Comet" is their debut album, and was self-released towards the end of 2013.
Analysis. The last few years have seen a steady increase in Norwegian bands that want to have a go at exploring progressive rock. Some of them are fresh bands with young musicians inspired by the increased exposure given this genre these days, others are older and more experienced musicians eager to record and even play live music they have loved for many years, but haven't had the opportunity to explore themselves due to a number of different reasons. What some of those musicians have in common, no matter age or background, is that some tend to be active in several projects. The most prominent member of Yearstones within this context is vocalist and bassist Tislevoll, who is also the permanent bassist of the somewhat more renowned band D'Accord. As Tislevoll is also the main songwriter in Yearstones, I guess we might describe this band as his side project. What we're dealing with here is a composer and a band with a strong and firm affection for 70's style rock and hard rock in general, and with a strong orientation (and to some extent foundation too) within the progressive rock part of that legacy. This is a band that does know their classic hard rock, and bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep are probably explored in depth, but I'd guess that Genesis and Yes are fairly high up on the list of bands the members of Yearstones are familiar with too. From the above description I presume few will be surprised to read that organ and guitar based arrangements are a key feature throughout. Yearstones describe their music as progressive hard rock, and the blend of Hammond organ and vintage oriented guitar riffs, combining into striking and often fairly majestic soundscapes, fits quite nicely into such a style definition. That the compositions are often flavored with additional surging and swirling keyboard textures, and that some intricate lead and backing vocal arrangements are thrown into this stew adds a stronger progressive tinge to the material, as does the compositional structure and the use of differing, contrasting or developing themes. With strong, powerful lead vocals as the icing on the cake, and with a couple of detours into jazz-rock oriented realms as the final topping. In sum this gives us an album that does wander off into several different directions, albeit ones that doesn't stray too far away from each other. Personally I was most taken with opening cut Babe, that pretty much sounds like a beefed up Eloy creation, and title track Comet with its more symphonic oriented escapades another highlight here. Other times the compositions tend to become somewhat flat however, pleasant enough in sound and execution, but lacking that subtle extra presence or nerve that elevates the listener experience to something special. Most notably on What's Going On, at least to my ears, where a few elements too many are added to the stew giving it a recognizable but funny taste, allegorically speaking.
Conclusion. If you have a soft spot for bands exploring the musical legacy of 70's classic rock, then Yearstones is a band you might want to take note of. In particular of you fancy bands such as Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, and especially if artists such as Genesis and Yes aren't strangers on your turntable. Yearstones blend inspirations from these and other heroes of yesteryear into a fairly tasty stew, and merits a check by the above specified audience.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 22, 2014
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]