Stone Magnum – Locked In Doom Overload

Tuesday, 23rd July 2013

Straight shooters deserve respect in any scene- especially in metal. One look at the social media channels of guitarist Dean Tavernier of US doom/classic metal outfit Stone Magnum and you’ll know what he’s thinking and feeling loud and clear. A sample status update from his personal Facebook page recently includes the following quote: “cleaning up my 12 gauge for a night of ‘wasted my money on this vinyl and CD target practice.”

We’ve all felt those feelings before as die-hard fans of the genre. If you are curious his selections included Judas Priest- Jugulator, Samael- Reign Of Light, Kiss- Carnival of Souls, and Paradise Lost- Icon to name only a few. At least he’s produced two albums with Stone Magnum that I doubt would ever receive the shotgun treatment for disappointing music. Those not in the know need to be if you miss bone crushing doom with the classic, traditional leanings at the helm.

Following a healthy smattering of exposures to their second full length From Time…To Eternity, I felt it was time to talk to Dean about Stone Magnum, so be prepared to learn more from this ardent metal musician.

Dead Rhetoric: What circumstances led to the foundation of Stone Magnum in 2010 – as you are originally known on the metal scene for your guitar work and songwriting with the more traditional metal act Skullview?

Dean Tavernier: It was a few different things that pretty much set the Stone Magnum ride in motion back in 2010.  At that time it seemed as though Skullview was picking up again, we’d been to Germany and had just released a new album.  During that same period of time, I was struggling with a very challenging life/family event that really had me at the end of my rope.  Mentally it was taking its toll.  Emotionally it was hard to maintain an even keel. Skullview was not getting together to work on things, and no shows were in the works, so the only thing that really would give me some release was to sit and write and record some music in my studio.

The intent was to write Skullview material, but little did I realize that everything that was going on was creeping into the songs I was writing….and they just didn’t sound like Skullview material…not what Skullview had been doing for the past 15 years anyway.  The songs were slower, different feeling than the other band, so I just kept building these couple of songs up and laid some vocals to them and some drum machine stuff. I thought it was really cool material, and was satisfied enough to just keep the songs for myself, as there was a lot of personal messages in those songs, but figured I’d let a few people hear it eventually, and RIP  liked it and the band was assembled after their interest and help.

Dead Rhetoric: On the self-titled debut album, you also handled the vocals. What are your thoughts about the recording and songwriting on this effort- and were you apprehensive about handling the singing within this doom metal act? Your vocals appear to be more in line with early Ozzy Osbourne and Wino from The Obsessed- are they some of your influences when it comes to this style?

Tavernier: You are correct, I did do vocals on the debut album.  We had been through a couple of different options for a vocalist since the formation and things didn’t work out with those guys for one reason or another.  We were doing shows and such, and just couldn’t find the right guy in a short notice to step in…so I went ahead and took it over the best I could. As far as the songwriting went and how the vocals fit into that…that wasn’t too difficult.   The melodies were already there, and I had pretty much written most of them, so all I had to do was to just belt out the best I could.  The songs on that album were written half as a band and half from those demos I was creating initially.   We had a couple of other musicians early on that contributed to the writing as well on several tracks.  “Fallen Priest” was the first song written in the band, and on the demos I had used that Ozzy style vocal, with a bunch of effects and stuff to make it work.

But the problem was that I had written the melodies independent of the guitar patterns, so when it came time to play and sing at the same time, I couldn’t keep the rhythms tight, and couldn’t keep the pitch perfect all the time.  I’m no talented player by any means, so it was awkward for me to do both.  But the recording part was easy because I didn’t have to concentrate on both at the same time.  The recordings went really smooth for that record.  We had been playing these songs live quite a bit, so everyone was comfortable with the songs.  As far as influences vocally…of course Ozzy and Wino would be influences, along with Reagers, Cronos, Langquist and any other number of singers who kick ass. But I didn’t really try to copy any particular style.  I just tried to place the voice into the music with no intentional influence in mind.  This is why some songs have up to three different voice variations within them.  If it fit the song, then I went with it.

Dead Rhetoric: In the past year you’ve expanded from a four-piece to a quintet, as well as relinquishing the vocal slot for another singer in Nick Hernandez. Tell us about the lineup changes and how you feel about Stone Magnum in 2013- what do you think the new members bring to the table to make the band that much stronger?

Tavernier: There really is nothing wrong with trying to make the band better.  We thought the band would be most effective with a dynamic frontman.  It was pretty cool how that came about.  We did a show in Chicago and I was handling the vocals.  Nick was there at the show and was down in the front just getting into the set.  After the set we were talking and I learned that he was no longer in Kommandant.  I asked him if he wanted to sing for Stone Magnum.  I’d heard he had some skills, and I knew his presence in Kommandant so it was almost like an instinct to ask him to join.  He came out and did some demos, and he and I just clicked immediately.  We were on the same wavelength when it came to writing music and coming up with ideas.   During that same transition going to Nick…our previous bassist Marty took a job in another part of the country…so we brought in Ben Elliot to fill the bass slot.  I think with this lineup we have a very powerful thing going on.   I think our live performance is more ferocious now.  I also I think there is more dynamics to the music as well

Dead Rhetoric: From Time…To Eternity is the second Stone Magnum album, and to my ears it’s a classic doom metal effort with all the right touches in terms of heaviness, old school production values, and chilling melodies. What do you think you learned from your first recording that you applied to this one to make it that much better? Can you also tell us some of your favorite tracks or riffs that send shivers down your spine from this record?

Tavernier: Thank you for the compliment.  It’s nice to see the album garner a little attention and it’s translating the same to some people as it does to us.  Really, the recording process for this new album wasn’t any different than the process for the debut.  Other than using some different equipment options, and the addition of the new members, it was really no different.  We recorded in the same space, used the same recording gear..mics, preamps, etc…  I think we managed a heavier guitar sound on this album than on the first.  We used our live gear in the studio this time…so that helped.

I think the title track, “From Time…To Eternity,” along with “Uncontained,” “In Tongues They Whisper,” and “The Gallows of Ohrdruf” are my current favorites, but I like them all to no end.  We wouldn’t have printed them if we weren’t proud of all the songs.   There are plenty of riffs on this album that really have an emotion behind them that continues to make me want to raise my fist when I hear them.  There is a slow riff in the title track that just has this feel of impending doom. Also I really like the harmony guitar part in “By an Omen I Went,” it’s so different than anything we did on the first album, and different than anything else we did on this second album.  It’s more of a classic metal dual guitar melody.

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