State of Neptune is a band with real grit. I’ve heard my fair share of hard rock and metal bands over the years, and a lot of them blend into each other. So, when I was listening to “Watershed,” the first song on Pulp of Stones, I had my critical ear at the ready. I was listening for something that would separate these musicians from the sea of similar artists out there in this genre. The chugging guitar builds suspense, and I find myself waiting for that cathartic explosion of sound. What an intro. And the payoff doesn’t disappoint. The riff has such a dark meatiness to it, and it sounds fantastic as both a guitar and bass rhythm. I love the loud-quiet dynamic in this song. The calm verses are contrasted with chaos in the choruses. Guttural vocals and fierce guitars, along with booming drums, create a manic opening song that leaves me utterly intrigued to hear what’s coming next.
“Fury” has a title that gave me high hopes before I’d ever listened to the song. It doesn’t disappoint. The riff is even catchier than the one in the first track. I was pleasantly surprised by the vocal switch-up in this song, too. Smoother singing and pleasing harmonies added a slice of variety, though I’m a fan of both vocal styles. And it made the deep, snarling vocals in the choruses seem more brutal and impressive. There’s a fantastic breakdown towards the end of the song, too; there are ear-shattering (in the best way) vocals and screeching guitar note-bends.
Where could State of Neptune go from here? That’s what I was wondering when I started listening to “Porn to Chill.” What really impresses me about this band is their consistency. They have a real talent not just for instrumental skill but songwriting. It’s another catchy, sinister tune. Even though the energy has been dialed down in the first section, the infectious melody is still there. The grungy guitar sounds so satisfying in the choruses. The band just keeps showing me that they have more and more tricks in the bag. They’re definitely not a one-sound group.
“Paradox” opens with catchy a tom-tom beat and a real earworm of a bass rhythm. The distorted tone on the guitar has a pleasingly sharp, distinct quality to it; it gives the riff real presence in the mix. Another belter of a track. And it leads into “Umbilical,” which is a massive shift in energy. This is definitely one of the most ferocious tracks on the record. The drum-work is mind-blowing. What a song.
Proving that they only make good songs, whether they take a gentle or chaotic route, State of Neptune delivers a beautiful ballad called “Compromise.” There’s a folk quality to the chord progression and vocal melody here. Instrumentally, of course, the metallic distortion remains. They return to high-energy rock on “Dead or Alive?”. Again, it’s the drumming and bass that both capture my attention. The beat and the rhythm are sublime. I do need to give praise to the sheer power behind the scream-o vocals on this one. I was not expecting that left-turn, as heavy as their previous tracks had seemed. Just when I think I’ve heard the craziest this group has to offer, they surprise me.
There’s a definite pattern forming. State of Neptune fluctuate between softer and heavier songs, showcasing their two distinct and yet closely-related sides. The haunting, sinister quality of their sound is consistent throughout the album. And when I say “softer,” I’m only ever speaking comparatively. There’s still a scorching riff on “Endolith,” but gentler vocals and instrumentation give room for everybody to showcase their musicianship. And the second half of the track definitely leans into full-blown metal. That breakdown. Sheesh. Conveying that much power with guitars and drumming is a real talent.
“Shred Me To Bits” is glorious carnage, and who could’ve guessed that from the title? It opens with furious guitars and drumming, and State of Neptune offers more verses driven by infectious bass hooks and tender singing.
The quiet moments are just as good as the loud moments on this album. That holds true on “Heavy Rain Of A Sunny Day”, the powerful closer to the record. Rain patters in the background as a beautiful finger-picked acoustic guitar chord progression takes the centre stage. The deep, husky lead vocals have such a sense of rawness and intimacy to them. This song is stunning, and it’s the perfect way to close the album. I can’t wait to see what this talented band does next.