Have you ever been in this scenario: you hear about a new band and their latest album, but when you checked out the reviews or listened to some samples on their My Space account, you only shook your head and said, 'I don't think so.' In the case of Sweden's Stone Lake, that was my experience with last year's offering, 'World Entry.' I never bought the album and never pursued reviewing it. Well, despite past reservations, I decided to secure Stone Lake's 'Uncharted Souls,' and, if anything, determine whether I was missing anything. To be honest, the first time I listened to this work I was a bit perplexed and not very pleased. (This was at work so I must admit I was a bit distracted at times.) I was troubled by Peter Grundström's vocals at the outset. He sounds like, at times, a collision between Lemmy and Halford. He definitely has a diverse style. And then there was the old school 80's guitar work that seemed as dated as a polyester leisure suit. However, after a second listen my ears perked up and I began listening more carefully.
On their My space account, Stone Lake describes their music as 'a cross between Metallica and Abba.' That's just too funny; you got love a crew that does not take the whole rock and roll thing (or themselves) too seriously. But I digress. I found 'Uncharted Souls to be somewhat musically confusing, yet still entertaining. You have to listen to this album more than once and listen to it loud to get the full effect. 'Uncharted' may be an apt adjective to describe the breadth of style here. The music definitely falls into the melodic category, but I still cannot figure out if they're going for a melodic hard rock or a melodic metal sound. In the end, it really doesn't matter. After all, it's their music. Eventually, after several spins, there was enough to keep me interested.
I can't say this interest was sustained from the first song to the last. However, there are some great songs on this album. Specifically, the opening number and title cut is very good: hard, fast and full of twists. Additionally listen for 'You're Beyond The Shadows Tonight' where Stone Lake is firing on all cylinders. And when was the last time you hear whistling on a song? 'Glory Days' is the closest thing to ballad you will find on this work and the closest to mellow you will find Mr. Grundström to be. It's a fine song. I think, however, the best songs may be the bonus tracks. 'Saint Or Evil' and 'Wonderland' are examples of satisfying heavy metal and demonstrate what 'Uncharted Souls' could have been: a simply solid metal album.
I do not regret not buying 2007's 'World Entry,' but I am pleased with 'Uncharted Souls.' Stone Lake simply delivers their own brand of melodic metal with determination and enthusiasm. Is it going to set a new course for their genre? I doubt it. But it is a worthy effort and requires your attention. Recommended!
- Craig Hartranft
Sweden's Stone Lake is one of those metal bands that you could easily dismiss after a brief listen. 'I've heard this before,' you might say. And I said the same. But I challenge you to give them a listen. You will be surprised: there is some fine melodic metal on 'Uncharted Souls.'