When Stonekind first popped up on my radar, I misread the name—reading it as “Stonerkind.” That misnomer followed me around for a day or two before I was actually able to give the band a proper listen.
That entire time leading up to that first spin, the “stoner” part of the name rolled around in my mind. Would this be a ferocious recreation of Kyuss? Would they pump out the energy of Monster Magnet? Would they try their very best to sound like early Clutch?
I was wrong on many levels, I soon realized.
In addition to going by Stonekind (no “R”), I quickly discovered the band writes incredible songs.
No, their blend of Heavy Blues, Psychedelic Rock, and Progressive Rock doesn’t align with the Kyuss mission statement, their occasional dips into Appalachian dirges don’t match Monster Magnet’s fierce relentlessness, and their smooth, layered vocals don’t draw comparisons to Clutch.
But there’s a beautiful cinematic quality that lurks just beneath the surface in Stonekind’s Spirit of the Void, the band’s June 2021 release—and it helped the album appear on the Doom Charts for Best New Album soon after it dropped.
Spirit of the Void is an intense, emotional experience marked by skilled songwriting and outstanding musicianship, and that deep, passionate Heavy Blues delivery is enough to occasionally call to mind genre heroes like King Buffalo and Elder.
Stonekind is a musical duo that formed in 2016 and hails from Winston-Salem, NC. Stonekind is:
- Davis Templeton – Guitars
- Jeff Ayers Jr. – Drums, Vocals
Upon their formation, the two musicians immediately decided to create music that was complex, uplifting, heavy, and relatable. That’s a difficult combination to pull off, but Stonekind manages it with effortless musicianship and theatrical grace.
In fact, we’d even go as far as saying Stonekind has only gotten better at achieving that goal. Their 2019 EP (Stonekind), which featured Jacob Shelton on bass, showcased many of the same goals, but also mixed in a great deal of ‘70s guitar heroics.
Spirit of the Void seems to be a refinement of their ideals, replacing some of the infectious moods from the EP with dramatic songwriting that hooks the listener for the duration of the entire album.
Spirit of the Void Album Review
Track One: Ashes, Pt. 1
Soft and intricate, “Ashes, Pt. 1” immediately stands apart from the rest album. But pay close attention—some of the themes you’ll hear in this opening track will resurface later on.
Track Two: Ashes, Pt. 2
Next to the album opener, “Ashes, Pt. 2” is a quick and lively Heavy Blues track. One of the shortest tracks on the album at 2:27, “Ashes, Pt. 2” is over almost as quickly as it begins—but those soaring guitar solos may be enough to have you hit the Back button for a second listen.
Track Three: Spirit of the Void
Like much of the album, the title track contains a certain theatrical thread that calls to mind many of the Progressive bands that have come before. Dark and brooding, “Spirit of the Void” is an emotional rollercoaster rocketed forward by Templeton’s aching guitars.
Track Four: Nowhere’s Home
Ayers isn’t the world’s best singer, but Stonekind smartly layers his vocals through Spirit of the Void to heighten its impact. “Nowhere’s Home” showcases Ayer’s voice at its very best, using his vocal chords as the primary instrument throughout the album’s shortest track.
Track Five: Untethered
At the album’s midpoint is possibly the best song on the entire album: “Untethered.” Featuring tons of layering, beautiful movements, and melodic lyrics, “Untethered” is an emotional experience marked by one lyric you’ll likely sing later in the day: “Break these chains!”
Track Six: Swamp Stomp
After the incredible high points of “Untethered,” “Swamp Stomp” begins closer to the Earth’s surface with light drums and a rumbling bass—until the guitar and vocals enter the fray. Like “Untethered,” “Swamp Stomp” is bolstered by impressive musicianship, especially Templeton’s furious performance on the six-string. Interestingly, “Swamp Stomp” features an ethereal conclusion with remarkable vocal harmonies.
Track Seven: Dust
Primarily acoustic and performed with a dash of Space Rock in the mix, “Dust” offers a few nods back to the theme from “Ashes, Pt. 1,” a nice reference that helps to reset the clock and prepare us for the album’s conclusion. The final few notes bleeding into “Behold the Stone” may also remind listeners of classic Pink Floyd.
Track Eight: Behold the Stone
Beginning where “Dust” left off, “Behold the Stone” starts with a Psychedelic, mystical element. Templeton and Ayers are both at peak performance here—especially Ayers on the drums.
Track Nine: Nomadic
Up to this point, Stonekind has demonstrated four times exactly how much they can squeeze into less than three minutes per track, so I was excited to see exactly what was in store for “Nomadic” and its nine-minute duration.
To my delight, “Nomadic” features elements of bands like Baroness and Valkyrie, alternating between intricate acoustic pieces and emotional highpoints delivered through mountains of distortion. It’s an impressive track, and it’s a powerful way to conclude the album.
Final Score: 10/10
Standout Tracks: “Untethered,” “Swamp Stomp,” “Nomadic”
Pros: Artfully crafted, this album is more than a few Stoner Rock tunes slapped together for a full-length release. Templeton and Ayers are skilled musicians and songwriters, and Spirit of the Void is an emotive experience marked by powerful drums, frenetic guitars, and carefully layered vocals.
It may have only peaked at No. 7 on the Doom Charts so far, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this album take home a few awards at The Doomies or another ceremony for our little genre.
Spirit of the Void is simply well done.
Cons: There’s little to dislike about Spirit of the Void. The biggest complaint that’s bound to come up is the decision to make Ayers the band’s primary vocalist. Ayers isn’t exactly the strongest singer in the world—but neither are genre heroes like John Garcia or Neil Fallon. However, his voice is distinctive enough to fit into the Stonekind template, and the band smartly layers his vocal tracks for peak emotional impact.