Stone Healer
Conquistador

This is neat. Stone Healer are about to unleash quite the progressive metal record on the world and I don’t know if I was quite ready for it. Listing as influences such bands as Alice in Chains and Ulcerate, this could have turned out to be a masterpiece or a complete mess. Conquistador is the former.

Side note; While I already picked up this one to review, I stumbled upon their EP, He Who Rides Immolated Horses on CD at a local record store. It’s self-released as well, so what are the odds?

The first track, which is called “One Whisper,” begins with some clean guitars, some cowbell usage, and clean vocals, definitely making this track sound a lot like some good, old fashioned 70s prog… until it doesn’t. Then, those previously mentioned Ulcerate/early Gojira vibes come in. The yelled vocals are not deep growls like one would expect over this sort of musical backdrop. While they do take a few listens to appreciate, appreciate them you shall.

The second track “Whence Shall I,” is one of the rare ones on this album that does not stand out. It’s decent, but definitely sounds a lot of like Gojira and simply makes me miss them and long for their upcoming return. It’s not that I’s bad, but I just expected more after that incredible first track.

The letdown doesn’t last long, though. Track 3, “Surrender” may make you do exactly that to Stone Healer. With a faster intro, one could be thinking this will be a shorter track, but it’s over 11 minutes. The shouted vocals fit well again and the way songwriter/musician/vocalist/mastermind Dave Kominsky switches between those vocals, singing, and some deeper growls is a treasure to behold, along with the faster parts, clean guitars, and leads… all within the first few minutes! Yes, it does transition into a slower passage with clean vocals 3 minutes in and stays there for a couple, but not so long to bog down the track. The transitions in this one are the best on the album as there’s build to each one. In an album absolutely full of standouts, this is the top.

The last track I’ll mention is the closer, which is called “Into the Spoke of Night,” and it’s one of the shorter songs on display here. It’s a fast track with some vocals reminiscent of the one band you may have previously heard that I mentioned earlier, Gojira. Much like the rest of the album, there is a strong bass presence, and the vocals carry it. You get used to them very easily. The last two minutes here may be the heaviest on the record with some sections of the aforementioned band as well as some which sound like earlier Mastodon.

Look. This is fucking great. It took a while for it to click with me. I spent more time with it than I do a number of my reviews because I kept feeling like I was missing something and I needed to be patient. Yes, it’s 7 tracks in 51 minutes. Yes, all of the tracks besides a short interlude exceed 6 minutes. A lot of the transitions at first are a bit jarring, especially when going from prog or grandpas’ guitars into brutal sections. After a while, trust me, it makes sense. I’ll stop short of calling this a masterpiece, but damn if it isn’t close. Dave Kominsky and his brother Matt who plays drums, is well deserving of your hard-earned dollars. I’m buying this on CD… and a shirt. Check this out!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
April 16th, 2021

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