Article by: Steven Principato
In the ongoing and frequently well received tradition of the rock supergroup, one would imagine the elation that might result in the unusual union of such a collection of prominent stoner, progressive, and experimental heavyweights. Gone is Gone, featuring members of Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age, and At the Drive In epitomizes the widely diverse, individual talents and musical styles of their day-job bands. Despite the well established traditions of sound in their individual linage, this newly assembled towering behemoth of rare musicianship that I shall christen Gone is Gone-a-tron stands tall and defiant. Charging headlong and blazing through any conventional bounds with a blazing sword of neo-progressive recklessness, Gone is Gone like many supergroups before them, challenge the imaginary yet feared musical boundaries of their own native genres.
Fresh out of the studio in 2016, Gone is Gone’s self titled debut E.P. (Black Dune Records), was curiously released beneath the mainstream radar despite the strong following of their original respective groups. Perhaps in an effort to establish a bias-free zone or a clean palette for an otherwise well established lineup, certain to be held over a bonfire of relentless criticism and subjective bench-marking against Mastodon or Queens material. Despite the frequently confusing notion to many rock critics regarding the “not metal” classification of these veteran musicians at large in respect to their original acts, (particularly Mastodon) the opening track “Violescent” holds back little aggression during the intro. With the pleasantly familiar sub-harmonic, mix -smashing fuzz, brought to you by bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders (Mastodon), accented by the hard stomping and unconventional beats of Tony Hajjar (At the Drive-In), one may expect the remainder of this extended E.P. (30min+) to elevate the metal credibility of this eclectic band of neo-prog rockers. However, since the E.P.’s purpose is to celebrate the unique talents of four drastically opposing artists, Gone is Gone celebrates the wide diversity between all four members which reflects in all eight tracks.
Rapidly shifting gears in true prog-rock fashion by cleverly exploiting the wizardly synthesized atmospherics of keyboardist Mike Zarin in tracks such as “Starlight”, “Character” and “Recede and Enter”, Gone is Gone exhibits little fear of their cerebral side. Finally, and taking a less-than-dominant role in Gone is Gone, (a rather unorthodox configuration regarding their origin groups) Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, a man with a very large and colorful collection of overpriced boutique stomp-boxes I would gather, judging from his infinite delay sequencing and cavernous echo effects. Curiously lacking solo work on any track recorded on Gone is Gone, Troy’s wingman role stands as a great example of not allowing too many cooks into the kitchen. Instead, Troy’s effects soaked guitar mix creates a perfect accompaniment to Zarin’s gentle atmospherics on virtually every track, leaving the heavy hitting duties for the drums and bass.
Considering the fact that Gone is Gone IS just an EP, with an actually full length release to naturally follow, such a wide range of unconventional talents brought together in this neo-prog supergroup proves a worthy effort in this possible mainstream renaissance of actual musicianship. Whether or not Gone is Gone plans to be GONE as a temporary side project or remain as a multi-album supergroup, such an eccentric union of diversely unique talents who boldly chose to facilitate in the creation of something new and original, deserve at least 30 minutes of your time. That is of course if your ears are still listening and your faith in new music remains intact. Keep your ears listening, they’ve yet to kill music.