There’s rock and roll- and then there’s f#@king rock and roll.  New US based super group Stone Mob is the latter.  They have a rollicking thunderous sound being played by some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever heard.  Seriously, I doubt there is any other band that could emulate their sound.  Although, I’ll be honest.  When I first Stone Mob I wasn’t sure if I liked it.

I knew it took incredible ability to play it- that much would be obvious to even the least musical person.  But that didn’t mean it spoke to me.  For one it was unlike any rock I’d ever heard.  It was busier, more frantic.  It sounded like the drums could barely contain the guitar and singing.  The rhythms weren’t predictable 3 or 4 chord jams- they were crazy licks with triplets and harmonics and at any moment a deluge of guitar trills could be unleashed between phrases.  It was bone crunchingly heavy yet not the least bit angry.  If anything, it was melodic, catchy, and dare I say, joyful.   No, this was NOTHING like any rock and roll in existence.  And then it hit me- these guys are no different than Led Zeppelin or Van Halen or Rage Against the Machine.  They are totally original, revolutionary, and inimitable rock and roll.  In “Requiem”, when singer Doug Masterson famously belts the lyrics “You better hold on tight we’re breakin’ all the rules tonight”- he isn’t kidding.  And when he follows up with “Just relax your ear we’re giving you something new to hear”- it’s good advice because the world’s rock and roll audience better buckle up.  Stone Mob is delivering some of the wildest heaviest, in your face, most original heart pounding fist pumping jump up and smash your beer bottle through your television music there is.  And if it took me a bit getting used to, well what can I say.  Sometimes when there’s very little basis for comparison it’s confusing.  But in the end, it’s a gift to be given something so new and entertaining.  And I would argue like revolutionary bands before, Stone Mob wouldn’t be breaking boundaries if they weren’t so damn good.

rock and roll

Doug “Earthdog” Masterson has an insanely powerful voice.  And unlike other heavy hitters in the industry- James Hetfield and Dave Grohl come to mind- Doug has RANGE.  In several songs his voice covers multiple octaves.  Take the crazy high register he sings in in the anthem “First Day.”  Or the sustained power he holds in the chorus of “Requiem.”  Frankly you would be hard pressed to find a modern rock singer who could pull off what Doug does.  Maybe Steven Tyler.  Add the poppy gang vocals of the rest of the band and you have chorus’s so fun and catchy it almost makes me mad.

The talent doesn’t stop with Stone Mob’s charismatic front man.  Their rhythm section- Andy Hamburger on drums and Wil David on bass- sounds like an unstoppable freight train.  And if you ever bother to listen to Andy’s fills beneath the wailing guitar you will hear a speed, tastefulness, and depth akin to Neil Pert from Rush.

But the real driving force behind Stone Mob, like any great rock band, is the guitar.  Enter the very appropriately named Shred Master General:  Blaine Kaltman.

Most modern rock from the last decade- White Stripes and Green Day come to mind- can be played by any second-year guitar player.   But it takes serious skill to play Stone Mob’s rhythms.  They are chock full of alternate picking, harmonics, whammy bar histrionics, finger plucking, and chords that would twist the average guitarist’s fingers into a square knot.   And the solos- forget about it.  Really.  Don’t even bother.  You want some idea of just how good Blaine is?  Try air guitaring one of his solos.  Just air guitaring!  I bet you find it exhausting, if not impossible.  Now imagine doing that- the string skips, the neck jumps, the stretches- the sheer SPEED- with the same deft accuracy Blaine does.   There’s a reason Blaine’s lessons in Guitar World Magazine get hundreds more likes on their Facebook page then other articles.  There’s a reason plethora of magazines are heralding him as one of the fastest, most innovative shred guitarists on the planet.  But beyond all the technically mastery his solos and licks just sound freaking awesome.  The only comparison I could make is “Whole Lotta Love” when the drum hits 2 beats and Jimi Page unleashes. With Stone Mob EVERY solo is that exciting.

Of course, none of this amazingness comes without a prince.  Rumor has it Blaine practices eight hours a day.  But I’d like to submit an alternate theory- he went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the Devil to gain his seeming super powers.  Guitar players have a long history of doing this.  I wouldn’t be surprised.  Either way, we are the beneficiaries because the music is epic.

I remember when I first heard Metallica as a kid, when I first Rage Against the Machine in college, when I first recognized the importance of the Grunge movement and how it would influence a generation.  I haven’t felt that way in a long time but with Stone Mob I do.  This is totally new rock and roll.  And it is awesome.  In Requiem Doug admits “it’s hard to do but is there something you would rather listen to?  Well I don’t think so.”  I don’t think so either.

Check out the video for “First Day” below and other Stone Mob videos on YouTube.

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