Every so often, a front man will break away from the comfort zone of his band and embark on a new project, more for his own satisfaction that that of the fans, and still manages to hit pay dirt with listeners.
And in the case of Kelly Shaefer, lightning strikes twice.
Known largely for co-founding the 1984 Florida-based progressive death metal band Atheist, Shaefer’s uniquely ophidian saw blade vocals, guitar stylings and eloquent lyrics helped to write Atheist into heavy metal history as being true pioneers of what has become a very distinctive genre.
In 1995, Shaefer stepped away to form the hard rock band Neurotica alongside guitarist Shawn Bowen, and met with much success both with fans and within the rock and metal world, including being produced by Brian Johnson of AC/DC and earning a well-deserved spot on the 2002 OzzFest roster.
When Neurotica was laid to rest, Atheist was brought out of retirement, eventually spawning the 2012 release, ‘Jupiter’, and now here we are today with Kelly Shaefer’s latest venture, Stones Of Madness.
Stones of Madness was initially formed back in 2011 and includes former Dry Kill Logic guitarist Scott Thompson, drummer G.J. Gosman and guitarist Shawn Bowen (both formerly of Neurotica), and the incomparable Julia Simms on bass.
On July 14th, 2013, Stones Of Madness made their live debut at Jake’s Tavern, a well-known Sarasota FL rock bar and a favorite haunt of both riders and rockers.
Now, don’t be fooled by the humble nature of this venue: At a maximum capacity of 225, the place was a packed house and made for both an intimate and explosive performance.
The band opened with “Hostility,” a rip-snorting piece of bad ass-ery with a solid groove that lives up to its name. This song features a few of Shaefer’s signature screams, just to show you right out of the gate that he’s not playing around.
The guitar-driven “I Need” boast some dynamic drumming, alongside the very reminiscent of early Alice In Chains three-part vocal harmonies of Thompson, Simms and Bowen, which made for a very memorable chorus.
Other notable songs from their 40 minute set included “Isn’t That The Way,” a brooding, dark and melodic groove featuring some very tasty drumming by Gosman; and “Not For Nothing,” a Pantera-esque riff racer that put the energy level through the roof before wrapping up with a thrash metal rendition of “Working Man” by Rush.
Following the show, Shaefer and a few other members met outside with friends and fans for some well-deserved congratulations and photo ops before heading back into the venue to chill out and have some drinks.
Stones Of Madness are proving themselves to be a solid, well-thought-out and very capable entity comprising of musicians who have the looks, the chops and the balls to forge ahead locally, nationally and internationally (and if the ladies in the front of the audience clamoring for an attempt to rub his leg during the show are any indication, clearly Kelly Shaefer’s still got it).