Stone Broken are an odd case in British rock, in that in feels like they should be doing a lot less than they are. They’re still backed by Spinefarm with a shockingly dedicated fanbase, milestones that a band like this in the current musical climate don’t seem all that compatible with. When their closest sonic analogue is probably Nickelback, there’s at least some silent majority explanation that can be formulated, but this is most definitely not silent. Stone Broken are making legitimate waves, at least in their corner of hard rock, all with a sound that’s functionally fine but doesn’t inspire a huge reaction. That’s where the Nickelback similarities really set in, of a band who’ve got their chorus-writing enormity down to an alchemic level of detail, and for whom that can bear the brunt of most fierce criticism when that’s exactly what they’re setting out to achieve. And that’s ultimately where REVELATION falls, an album that still isn’t lighting much of a fire but is self-evidently up there in its field; after all, if it was easy to write songs as immediately clamouring for an arena stage as these ones are, everyone would be doing it. It’s the natural trade-off for lyrics that still aren’t all that special for the genre—the usual suite of broad, bombastic themes that every album like this is practically mandated to have, if you’re wondering—but Stone Broken clearly have the conviction to get around most of their shortcomings. It’s Rich Moss’ booming voice that’s still the centrepiece, still kind of like a less-congested Chad Kroeger to project even further and foster some greater overall power. He’s what makes these choruses pop more than anything, primarily down to their power more than anything. With albums like this that tend to blur together, it’s at least a useful trait to have, if only to avoid much tedium by really going for broke.
It doesn’t make for the most glowing recommendation, but that’s more a result of the type of album this is; Stone Broken’s sound just isn’t that dynamic by design, and that shows when it can be averaged out as generally solid without much elsewhere. At least with the title track or So Damn Easy, they swing towards a sharper, more purposeful tone in the guitars that’s more a runoff from the cleaner production they’re working with here. The latter-day Nickelback comparisons continue to be held onto, though Stone Broken probably have the edge in how the sleeker production touches and electronics don’t actively hinder, other than making a mushy ballad like Me Without You even mushier. There’s still a satisfying heaviness on it base level, typically in big, barrelling tempos on Black Sunrise or Without A Reason, where they’ll be strong enough to avoid utter butt-rock banality while still not striving for much more than being crowd-pleasers. It’d be nice to see Stone Broken push themselves a bit more in that regard, but it’s still understandable. It’s one of the reasons they’ve picked up as much traction as they have, in being undeniably accessible and just the tiniest bit more developed than its contemporaries. And to be fair, if a band like this was going to get back on those kind of metrics, Stone Broken aren’t an objectionable choice. REVELATION is definitely a jump up from its predecessor for a start, still not exceptional but in a suitable realm for good hard rock to stem from. Perhaps the greatest thing holding it back is that Stone Broken are yet to form a definitive identity for themselves, but the fact that there’s very little feeling of compromise or consolidation here implies that this could be endpoint. If so, it would’ve been nice to get a bit more, but this is still acceptable.
For fans of: Nickelback, Alter Bridge, Shinedown
‘REVELATION’ by Stone Broken is released on 15th April on Spinefarm Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall