"Project Millstone" is a courageous album. Rather than complying to the rules set by what the American mainstream has deemed Hard Rock, MILLSTONE isnít about to waste any time peppering their music with commercially marketable Rock flavouring. While it is a risky move, and it may limit their future success rate, there is no denying the fact that "Project Millstone" has the Hard Rock/traditional Heavy Metal sound down to a veritable science. The music on this album is powerful; it is catchy and riddled with grooves and melodies so infectious that it would generate embarrassment from a twenty dollar prostitute. This is music that is going to remain in your conscious after it has ended.
What is so great about "Project Millstone" is that each instrument is its own entity, yet they all seem to comply with what the other is doing. The guitar is responsible for a large portion of the melody throughout the majority of the album, but the bass guitar does more than simply follow along the guitarís path. During the album opener, "Taking Back The Nite", the bass guitar constructs its own set of grooves which do more than provide icing for the cake baked by the guitar and vocals. The bass guitaristís grooves are so unique and memorable that entire songs could have been written using only said grooves. When the guitar and the bass are set in full motion alongside each other, they intertwine in perfect unison, and the end result is one that you will not soon forget.
"Bourne Into A Class War" opens with a riff that sounds nearly identical to those found on DIAMOND HEADís seminal "Lightning To The Nations" album in both production and heaviness. The song itself is a little less inventive than its predecessor, but it is equally as memorable. The chorus, which sees the vocalist experimenting with layers, is the type of song that one can sing along to upon first listen. And the end of the song borrows pages directly from early SABBATH records giving it an unexpected Doom Metal feel.
I imagine that the vocalist is going to be hit-or-miss with a few people. He is a competent singer, but the albumís production does sort of underwhelm his voice. The instrumental portions of the music tend to overpower his voice, but the lyrics are all perfectly audible. He doesnít really overstep his boundaries as a vocalist, instead he plays it safe. This riskless performance, whilst a tad generic, allows the music to develop a more natural feel. Nothing sounds strained, because it isnít. I donít have any qualms with the singer.
The only instance during the album in which I felt that the band was drifting out of their element was the first half of the ten+ minute "The Selector... (The Day I Was Reborn)". The first half alternates between a soft, balladesque song and the usual Hard Rock fare before returning the band to their hard rocking selves. The instrumentals, while repetitive, are similar to IRON MAIDENís early softer moments (think "Remember Tomorrow"), but the effect wears off quickly. Once the song really kicks in, it rocks just as much as the rest of the album, and the jam section towards the end doesnít feel pretentious at all.
"Project Millstone" is such a refreshing album. In a time when bands like HINDER and NICKELBACK are donning the Hard Rock label, it is amazing to listen to a band that understands that good Rock music should leave you bloodied and beaten but with a sense of amazement and wonderment as well.
(Online December 9, 2008)