June 28, 2023

These guys are a four-piece band based in Athens, Greece, whose sound can described as a mixture of stoner rock, a large helping of grunge and more than a touch of blues-rock. It’s fascinating how over recent years Greece has been nurturing a very healthy stoner rock scene, with lots of new bands emerging to join such seasoned stalwarts as Planet of Zeus and Nightstalker. As part of this encouragment, Rusty Bonez were formed in 2015 and released their debut album Wrath in 2017, which was recorded and produced in cooperation with Fotis Benardo (Rotting Christ, Septicflesh, Nightfall) at Devasoundz Studios. The album was met with great critical acclaim inside Greece (natch) and also abroad, enabling them to play alongside their aforementioned inspirational bands, to the obvious delight of all parties! 

Now in 2023, their second studio album Brainworm has just been released and it shows a more mature and refined band, distilling some truly catchy, bare-bones and highly energized heavy rock. Rusty Bonez are furthering the promise made by Wrath, maintaining a remarkable proficiency at writing pacey, catchy, stoner riffs and intoxicating grooves that recalls artists like Soundgarden, Black Label Society, The Sword, Clutch – and a slightly less sleazy Ruff Majik! 

Rusty Bonez are:
Nondas Emmanouil – vocals
Harris Kanellopoulos – guitar
Jojos Silivridis – bass
Alex Kollias – drums

Nowhere kicks us off, with vocalist Nondas Emmanouil displaying more than a hint of James Hetfield or the late Chris Cornell on vocals but what straightaway gets you is the classic metronomic grunge/stoner vibe – pacey, not too sludgy, a definite earworm! The riffs are catchy and somehow almost instantly familiar, this can either be a burden or a musical feast but it’s a promising start! Drive continues the Stoner vibe, but with an even more infectious riff. It’s a timeless piece of air-guitar material, what’s not to like?

If is heavier, slower, meatier, and Nandos displays a sudden and surprising likeness to Michael Hutchings on the verses here, interspersed with his more usual impassioned choruses. We also get a bass solo, a short burst of lead guitar before the riff returns. Rain is next, and again I was surprised at the maturity of the song and the uncanny echoes of Chris Cornell. This one mixes clean staccato guitar work with big choruses, a wonderful looping bassline, great great vocals – my personal track for its sheer passion and freshness

Do You Remember? is another “softer” number, and its becoming clear this is not just another Stoner album….this is hazy genuine psych-rock, a sparse production, again hugely reminiscent of the late great Chis Cornell, it could easily be one of the tracks on the man’s 2007 solo album Carry On. Pile of Stones goes back to a sort of “clean grunge” a la Metallica, it’s certainly got a real 80’s feel to it.

Miles Away is quite different, it’s almost semi-acoustic and gently laid-back for a while. Very simple but effective, sort of classic blues-rock in fact. I really like this one! Brainworm is another wonderfully Metallica-influenced number, it rumbles along suitably threateningly! Hold your Breath steers in more full-on Stoner / Hard Rock territory, it’s another serious set of vocals from our tenacious frontman, just a touch straight-forward maybe and not the strongest track here. Someday is a bit similar, they’re a talented band but one or two tracks are a little samey after the goodies that preceded them.

Shadows of Faith is the album’s closing track, it starts off bluesy/acoustically like Mile Away, and you’re sat there waiting for the explosion….and you ain’t disappointed, but not in a mega-heavy way, more a classic burst of Southern Rock! Nondas really does echo some of those great Americana singers on this one and it’s perhaps a strangely muted ending to a high-energy songset – but it’s still a really powerful track. More please!

Recorded at Devasoundz Studios, produced by Fotis Benardo and mastered by George Nerantzis (Abbath, Dark Funeral, Pain of Salvation, Gus G), Brainworm is now available via Vinyl Store Gr. All in all, this album turns out to be a lot more than yer average slab of stoner – there’s a surprising amount of rock variety to it and it’s all the better for it! For me, that’s what lifts this album above the majority of what might be badged as stoner – it might sound a tad derivative at times but it remains catchy throughout and you’ll remain totally hooked to the whole show – it’s good stuff!