‘Stone Leaders”

By Dr. Abner Mality

John Macaluso is a pretty well known name in prog metal and melodic rock circles. He’s manned the drums for Yngwie, TNT and Symphony X so his name signifies a certain level of quality. Stone Leaders is a new prog metal band he’s put together with some talented musicians from Croatia and the best way to describe this is smooth and easy prog metal with an influence on melody.

All the typical comparisons to Dream Theater and Spock’s Beard are apt here and if you like the style of those bands and don’t demand much in the way of innovation, Stone Leaders is an easy band to like. I found it an inoffensive if unexceptional listen where the talent really shines only in certain areas instead of all the way through. The album starts with the more aggressive stuff like “Box Of Time” and “DV84U4ea” where hard edged guitar predominates, but my favorite track is the proggiest, “Fire Up the Oceans” which has such a cool, soaring and uplifting vibe with great keyboards from Dino Jelusic who’s played with Trans Siberian Orchestra and Animal Drive. I wish there had been a couple more in that vein. The lead vocals of Ivan Mihalijevic are incredibly smooth and showing no accent at all.

The album loses steam towards the end and tracks like “Ignited” and “Gravity” are really too soft and balladic to hold my interest long, as well played as they are. The final track “Seeker” starts the same way but does end with quite the impressive jam.

Stone Leaders is not something I will revisit a lot but if you like the more hard rock side of Dream Theater, give it a try.