Review – Nine Stones Close – Diurnal

Nine Stones Close was conceived in 2008 as a solo project by Adrian Jones, the first CD, ‘St Lo’, was independently released in the Netherlands. Adrian received critical acclaim and visibility which inspired him the 2010 follow up ‘Traces’. The project grew into a band for when Adrian joined up with Brendan Eyre, Marc Atkinson and Neil Quarrell. 2012’s ‘One Eye on the Sunrise’ saw a further evolution of the band with returning members Atkinson and Eyre now joined by Peter Vink on bass and Pieter van Hoorn on drums.

In 2016 ‘Leaves’ featured a new line up; Adrian Jones and Pieter van Hoorn were joined by vocalist Adrian (Aio) O’Shaughnessy, Christiaan Bruin on keyboards and Peter Groen on bass. This album saw yet another evolution in the band’s sound, putting a new twist on an already unique and distinctive sound. In 2024, after a forced hiatus, the band has further evolved along with the music. Adrian Jones is joined by returning members Brendan Eyre, Adrian (Aio) O’Shaughnessy and Christian Bruin, alongside an energetic and skillful new rhythm section, Lars Spijkervet on drums and Joachim van Praag on bass.

A hugely inspired, creative and productive period of writing and recording led to the completion of two new albums, ‘Diurnal’ and ‘Adventures In Anhedonia’, both scheduled to be released in 2024.

Diurnal’ reflects on the arc of a day, and some of the internal dilemmas we all deal with from time to time. The album takes you from the uplifting dawn of a new day full of hope and beauty, through the high and lows of events and thoughts as the day’s events unfold, and finally to the moments of reflection as the sun sets at the end of the day.

If there is one phrase I could use to describe ‘Diurnal’ it would be emotively powerful, from the first notes of Birds, Insects and Kites you get a reflective feel but, as this intelligent instrumental builds, Adrian’s thunderous, bluesy guitar takes centre stage and it erupts into something much more primeval, aided and abetted with skill by the dynamic rhythm section. It is one hell of a powerful way to open an album and will have you awake and attentive, ready for the feast of music that is to come. The Veil is a short, connecting, instrumental piece that leaves a ghostly feeling of Scandinavian noir to my ears, all mysterious and questioning and sets the scene perfectly for the first track released from the album, the moody and pensive Ghosted. It’s a cultured piece of music that wouldn’t be out of place on a Pink Floyd album as Adrian Jones channels his inner Gilmour. Adrian O’Shaughnessy’s smoky hued, measured vocals are perfect for the mellow and undemanding mood that this über-stylish song invokes. The keyboards, drums and bass wash reflectively over you as Jones’ fine guitar playing just adds additional class to what is a really good track indeed.

This fine album, a refined melting pot of progressive rock, hard rock and metal, continues with the primeval brilliance of Angel of Flies, a track so heavy that it must have been hewn straight out of granite. Another song that builds up suspensefully before a grating, edgy guitar line and sumptuous bass break out, adding to the nervous anticipation. O’Shaughnessy’s voice just adds to the heaviness and has, to my ears anyway, a touch of Glenn Hughes at the height of his vocal powers and gives the track a subtle feel of early Led Zep in places (well, Led Zep on steroids maybe!), a feel that is enhanced by Jones’ outstanding guitar playing. There’s a real quality to the music, impressive songwriting and impeccable musicianship (a nod to the highly effective new rhythm section here) that just draws you in to the band’s immersive musical world. In Remembrance is another connective piece that just slows the heart rate down with its melancholy fragility, leaving you ready for the epic brilliance of Frustration-Sedation, at just under twelve minutes, a powerful, compelling and potent musical journey that hits you with its sonic magnitude from the first note. It’s a sinuous piece of music that ebbs and flows from a slow burning, pulsating rhythm, through moments of reflection to a soaring musical grandeur. A majestic soundscape of crushing guitars, thunderous drums and potent bass lines, all coordinated perfectly by O’Shaughnessy’s fine vocal performance.

Golden Hour is a blues-tinged ninety seconds of wistful nostalgia that leads into the album closing Dusk, a more introspective and insightful track that has me in the Mojave Desert at night, back against a Joshua tree and looking up at the impossible clarity of the sky and the brightness of the stars and contemplating my place in the universe. A sultry, bluesy guitar and a yearning, wistful vocal are the core of this song, a nostalgic, almost melancholy piece of music with a marvellously expansive soundscape and a mighty fine way to bring things to a close.

‘Diurnal’ has to be one of the most imposing and impressive releases I’ve heard this year. Nine Stones Close have returned with a new line-up and firing on all cylinders and have created what, to me, is their finest album yet. A wonderfully direct, dynamic and energetic listen from beginning to end and one that will be on many best of the year lists come December 2024, I highly recommend it.

Released 11th July, 2024.

Order from bandcamp here:

Diurnal | Nine Stones Close (

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