This hard rock supergroup – which unites members of Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age and the recently reunited At the Drive-In –couldn't possibly surpass its marquee billing. But the band's debut EP carves out its own compelling niche, combining Queens' scorched stoner-metal squall, Mastodon's grandiose prog-metal bombast and ATDI's bruising post-hardcore.
ATDI drummer Tony Hajjar and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin formed the project after collaborating on video game and movie trailer scores. Perhaps inevitably, patches of Gone Is Gone are bogged down by textural drone and spoken-word padding ("Character," "Recede and Enter") better utilized by a Call of Duty loading screen. Elsewhere, the band alternates between sweltering distortion and psychedelic star-gazing. Bassist-singer Troy Sanders unleashes his signature Mastodon roar on sludge monster "Violescent," which climaxes with QOTSA guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen's stratospheric solo; the opposite extreme is "Starlight," a dynamic post-metal epic that harnesses Deftones' balance of savagery and splendor.
The EP unfurls like the soundtrack to a nonexistent sci-fi/horror film, and Sanders' bleak, meditative lyrics feel tailored to fill out the gaps in a broader story. Throughout, he drifts in outer space ("Starlight"), tracks down a rival for bloody vengeance ("In time you will pay / Gallows wait and bring you down," he snarls on "Stolen From Me") and coaxes a friend toward their demise (metal-Western centerpiece "This Chapter," a demonic Willy Wonka tunnel ride into the bowels of hell).
But overall, Gone Is Gone transcends not with evocative images but herculean heaviness. "I can't resist through the noise," Sanders bellows. No kidding.