Cornerstone - Human Stain
Massacre Records
Melodic Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
10 songs (49:17)
Release year: 2002
Cornerstone, Massacre Records
Reviewed by Marty
Surprise of the month

While first listening to this album, I kept thinking that there was something very familiar about the style of music and especially the vocals. When I noticed that the singer's name was Dougie White, then it was clear to me! He's the voice behind the excellent Rainbow comeback album, Stranger In Us All in 1995. The Scottish-born former Midnight Blue vocalist has been busy lately, recording 2 albums with Cornerstone in the last 2 years (the first one, Arrival being a more progressive style than this one) as well as being the new vocalist in Yngwie Malmsteen's band. In fact, he auditioned for the lead vocalist spot in Iron Maiden years ago that was eventually filled by Blaze Bayley. Also a major part of this band is Steen Mogensen, the bassist for Royal Hunt. Rounding out the line-up is Allan Sorensen (ex-Royal Hunt) on drums and Kaspar Damgaard, from Mike Tramp's band, on guitar.

With Royal Hunt on hiatus, Steen Mogensen took advantage of the time to start up the Cornerstone project. After hearing Dougie White's vocals on the Stranger In Us All Album, he was his first choice for a vocalist. What they have come up with is a great mix of classic melodic hard rock with some metal style riffs that is very catchy and very good. The use of Hammond organ and other keyboards give this album a very 70's feel with the overall sound being a mix of Rainbow, Deep Purple, Dio and even some Led Zeppelin like elements. Most of the tracks are very guitar driven with lots of riffs throughout and the steady riffing really propels the up-tempo track Some People Fly. The Rainbow -type sound is heard throughout this one and even has some very Uriah Heep sounding Hammond organ fills. Wounded Land with it's slower pounding beat, uses a Zeppelin style orchestrated arrangement and some of it reminds me of Stargazer from the Rainbow Rising album. This is a very Kashmir-like atmospheric track that has some great expressive lead guitar. This same type of orchestrated sound is also heard on the last track, Forever Young. The Rainbow sound is heard again on House Of Nevermore, a slower, driving tempo track that has a classic 70's beat with some very wild lead solos. The Hammond organ makes an appearance again on this one.

The ballad, Singing Alone, is an excellent, very spirited and soaring song with some a great all round vocal performance by Dougie White. The arrangements give this track a classic sound all the way and the chorus is very powerful and a memorable one. You'll go away singing this one for sure! Future Rising contains a Royal Hunt type of keyboard / guitar blend that is also very riff oriented and the vocal lines remind me of an older Journey sound (i.e. around the Infinity, Evolution and Departure era of the band). There's some cool synthesizer soloing as well which again, brings Rainbow to mind.

Sail On Stormy Waters uses a David Coverdale era Deep Purple type of slow bluesy riff and comes off sounding like a true classic rock rock tune. It's very heavy and with the passionate and powerful vocals of Dougie, is a true highlight of this album. I've left the best for last.....Midnight In Tokyo is undoubtedly the best track on this whole album. It features an excellent Heavy Metal riff, a driving sound and excellent choruses. The feel and arrangement of this one really has an older Dio type of sound to it. A killer track!!!

This really is a great album. It has lots of energy and melody and even though it's influences lie primarily in the 70's and 80's with some of the best classic Hard Rock and Metal bands, it doesn't sound dated. It has a freshness and energy that flows through each track. Every track is good and with a few real stand-outs. If you like some of the newer Melodic Hard Rock/Metal bands that are on the scene now, you will definitely like this band. If you're stuck in the 70's or 80's, you will also like this band. They have a great all round sound which is rich and heavy with lots of melody and have one of the better vocalists around these days. It will be interesting to see what happens to this band in the future with Steen Morgensen and Dougie White as they get busy with Royal Hunt and Yngwie Malmsteen respectively as to whether we'll see anything else from this band in the not too distant future. I certainly hope so!!!

Killing Songs :
Some People Fly, Singing Alone, Sail On Stormy Waters and Midnight In Tokyo
Marty quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Cornerstone that we have reviewed:
Cornerstone - Two Tales Of One Tomorrow reviewed by Marty and quoted 85 / 100
Cornerstone - Once Upon Our Yesterdays reviewed by Marty and quoted 80 / 100
Cornerstone - Arrival reviewed by Chris and quoted 86 / 100
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