It was always going to happen; there was no avoiding it. From the moment Gone Is Gone was announced, and revealed to have members of At the Drive-In, Mastodon, and Queens of the Stone-Age in its ranks, it was always going to be dubbed a supergroup. Gone Is Gone was formed when At the Drive-In drummer, Tony Hajjar, and multi-instrumentalist, Mike Zarin, were working together composing music for film trailers and the pair decided that their musical collaboration needed to be expanded further. Enter Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar, and finally Troy Sanders on bass and vocal duties.
Dubbing a band a ‘supergroup’ is never particularly helpful, as it speaks nothing of a group’s skill, talent, or music, and can set-up unreasonable expectations by immediately drawing comparisons to the members’ established bands. Anyone going into Gone Is Gone’s self-titled EP expecting a mash-up of At the Drive-In, Mastodon, and Queens of the Stone-Age, will be disappointed as Gone Is Gone stands on its own, carrying a distinctive and pleasant flavour.
Violescent was the first taste of Gone Is Gone’s sound, so it is fitting that the EP opens with its sludgy tones. Sanders’ vocals, which work so well against Brent Hinds and Bran Dailor’s in Mastodon, end up feeling a bit much by the time Violescent’s strong outro rolls around, but luckily the change of tone with Starlight is matched by an improvement in Sanders’ vocals, and his consistently good bass work. Starlight demonstrates good use of space and movement, with the guitar work bearing a resemblance to A Perfect Circle, showing that Van Leeuwen isn’t just drawing upon his experience in Queens of the Stone-Age here.
Hajjar provides solid rhythmic work at the mid-point of Stolen From Me, and his prowess is on display with the drum intro to One Divided, a track which features a simple but menacing guitar riff, and a chorus which is simultaneously spanky and heavy. Loading the song’s final third with counter-rhythms and syncopations illustrates Gone Is Gone’s progressive and experimental tendencies, which are also on display with the extended, atmospheric, intros to Praying From The Danger and the moody closing track, This Chapter. Gone Is Gone feels more like a mini-album than an EP, so it will be interesting to see how many of these songs will also feature on the group’s LP when that finally drops, but for now Gone Is Gone is off to a good start.