After taking the world by storm with their 2013 self-titled debut, Victorian rock revivalists Stonefield have returned from enchanting audiences all over the globe to take us all on a trip with their second full-length As Above, So Below.
A more mature and varied affair than their debut, As Above So Below sees the Findlay sisters delve into more psychedelic territory, injecting their trademark blend of kaleidoscopic riffs and swirling melodies with tinges of prog, doom, acid rock and middle eastern influence to create a mystical listening experience.
Sister gets things off to a roaring start, with a spacious doom-laden riff (courtesy of Hannah) drenched in Sarah’s fuzzed-out vintage synths providing an ominous back-drop for vocalist Amy to unleash her soulful, grunt-filled wail in all of its soaring glory. Familiar, yet distinctive, it provides a perfect entry point for the musical coming-of-age story As Above, So Below goes on to tell.
Dream follows a similar sonic template to Sister, but retains an element of freshness by inverting the vocal approach, with the verses channeling an almost shoegaze like feel before the powerhouse chorus. It’s a minor tweak, but it’s one of many examples of the musical maturation Stonefield display here.
The aptly titled Changes is at once the most contemporary and yet retro sounding track Stonefield have produced thus far and this duality helps to conjure something truly special. A mid-tempo track based around some memorable flanger riffs, a deceptively simple but ever-so-danceable rhythm and some dreamy blissed-out vocals, Changes continues to add layers of depth with each chorus, before somewhat abruptly dropping you into the enchanting aura of Love, home to an alluring piano/guitar interplay and sultry withdrawn vocals, Love is every bit as seductive as its namesake, and every bit as unexpected, as Stonefield display a newfound understanding of the power of restraint.
The same could be said of the middle-eastern influenced Lonely, and the sci-fi soundtrack in waiting Midnight which both harness the power of the space between notes, with the former home to one of Stonefield’s most captivating vocal lines and the latter’s wandering bassline showing off the youngest Findlay, Holly’s improved chops.
Fans of Stonefield’s more straightforward debut needn’t despair though, as despite all of the sonic experimentation and growth shown on As Above, So Below the Findlay sisterhood haven’t given up on being a four-to-the-floor powerhouse yet, with the likes of Stranger, Eyes and Sister every bit as anthemic and powerful as their earlier works.
As with with rest of As Above, So Below the difference with these tracks lies in the depth of songcraft and musicianship being displayed by all four members of Stonefield. Amy’s voice admittedly remains the star, but her sisters contributions are now what keeps that star burning bright for the duration and producer John Lee has done a masterful job of capturing some truly inspired performances from each. The fact that the youngest is still only 18 should have you shaking your head at the future possibilities as their maturation continues.
Stonefield have stated that this is the record that they felt they needed to make, in fulfilling their vision they’ve proven to the world that they are a force to be reckoned with.
As Above, So Below is the sound of Stonefield growing into themselves. We can’t hardly wait for the next chapter.
Stonefield’s ‘As Above, So Below’ is out Friday 15th July.