“Stone Mammoth”

By the Great Sun Jester

All good things in time. If there’s lessons to be drawn from STONE MAMMOTH’s self-titled debut, that’s one. The Finnish heavy stoner rock band first formed in 2012 and recorded their first album in 2014. It took them one day following a soundcheck the day before. The debut finally gets the global attention it deserves in 2021 and kicks off with the muscular, relentless “Mammoth Rising”. The two-guitar attack from Timo Vuorela and Jani Paananen merge during the song’s opening seconds into a steamrolling six-string beast. Their hypnotic riffing pulls you in and creates an undeniable groove that sustains the track from its first note to its last. Vuorela takes a fiery but brief solo; this is a song uninterested in excessive guitar heroics and, instead, theplayers are far more intent on serving the song.

Listeners should applaud their decision to lean so heavily on a two-guitar configuration. It means STONE MAMMOTH can translate this track, among others, to the stage without losing any of its musical firepower. Bass players, however talented, can only do so much to fill in the gaps live when bands use a single guitarist. The rhythm section, especially drummer Teemu Alho, provides a solid yet swinging foundation. Vocalist Jesse Etelämäki tops things off with a full-throated singing performance that commands your attention. They slow the tempo some with the album’s second track “Lock ‘n’ Load”. 

It elicits an even finer vocal from Etelämäki. He wails with bluesy power, even slips in a small touch of humor, and his confident phrasing holds your attention from the outset. The textural variations STONE MAMMOTH achieve from track to track are subtle but help the band broaden their sound. Further evidence of this emerges with the track “Planet Mammoth”. The moody, even slightly melancholic, opening gathers aural intensity as the track progresses, peaking in the song’s second half, but anyone expecting the near obligatory SABBATH-esque shift from a restrained, even muted, instrumental thrust into a breakneck pace will be pleasantly surprised when the band confounds such expectations. The track ends as it begins – looking inward and bringing the listener with them. 

The band’s bluesy inclinations are in full flower for “Blind Eye Looking”. It’s a slow burner, STONE MAMMOTH far more focused on invoking a mood rather than bulldozing listeners, and their artistic patience pays off huge dividends for everyone concerned. It likewise features some of thealbum’s best lyrical content and Etelämäki’s vocal brings it to life with broken soulfulness. The furious pacing of “Paralyzed Time” is a shot in the arm for the album after the comparatively languid thrust of the previous tracks. It’s another illustration of the diversified sound the band maintains throughout the course of this self-titled collection. 

The potpourri of riffs the band deploys for the finale “Black & Green” are among the album’s best and the rhythm section ably supports the guitars with another fantastic turn. Bassist Juha Jaskari is especially notable here for the way he syncs up so well with Alho’s drumming. There’sno question that the guitarists generate considerable sparks over the course of STONE MAMMOTH’s nine songs, but Jaskari and Alho boast palpable chemistry on each of those tracks. This release has been well worth the wait and we can only hope the band garners enough attention that we won’t have to wait long for their sophomore effort.