Oct 2017 07

Stoneburner - The Agony BoxStoneburner
Category: Industrial / Experimental / Electronic
Album: The Agony Box
Blurb: The beats must flow, and flow they do on Stoneburner’s new album; mixing Middle Eastern sounds with synths, tribal beats, and a host of other experiments, Stoneburner creates a haunting soundscape that transcends overly saturated themes and musical conventions.


In a music scene filled to the brim with overused themes, it’s refreshing that Steven Archer has created a project dedicated to the world of Frank Herbert’s literary classic, Dune. Stoneburner returns with The Agony Box, a new collection of works that span the sands of that distant future where mysticism and tribal science fiction converge to form a soundscape that is both homage and musical journey.

“Inkvine Scar” is an interesting blend of Eastern sounds and thrumming synths that starts easy and slowly turns up the energy and serves as a great introduction for the rest of what the album holds. Moving from track to track, the album crosses genre, theme, and culture with an aptitude that others have tried and failed as Archer is able to deftly manipulate modality and truly create something that feels fresh and exciting. While the question might be asked whether the continued passion and love for Dune has perhaps run its course, given that this is Stoneburner’s fifth album with this theme, the answer is a resounding “No.” “Test of Possession” stands out as one of the more dynamic songs on the album and serves as an excellent demonstration of Archer’s skill as he continues to pioneer into new territory.

Perhaps the only drawback to The Agony Box is that it doesn’t quit – some might appreciate this, while others may grow weary of the rapaciousness the album holds. The album has softer moments, but they usually only serve as interludes before a thumping beat takes over and while tribal listeners will appreciate the ever thumping vigor, casual listeners may begin to be worn down. However, this aspect comes down to personal preference between listeners and is largely contextual, though it bears noting that it marks the difference between listening to The Agony Box while reading Dune and exercising, cleaning, or some other form of activity that demands the unbound energy on offer.

Overall, The Agony Box is a welcome addition to Stoneburner’s discography, showing that Archer isn’t content to just stay in the same zone, but rather explore new territory and show that his love for Frank Herbert’s universe merits further examination. The journey he aims to take us on marches ever onward into a future where the spice, along with the beats, must flow.
Track list:

  1. Inkvine Scar
  2. Osafa Charm
  3. Tales of the Great Cryptogram
  4. Shishaklis Hooks
  5. Test of Posession
  6. Saint Alia of the Knife
  7. The Diamond Tattoo
  8. The Honored Mates
  9. Womb of Heaven
  10. A Song for Wind Etching
  11. Blackbird
  12. Muad’Dibs Jihad
  13. Ballads of the Long March

Website, Facebook, Bandcamp
Negative Gain Productions
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Brian McLelland (BMcLelland)

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