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Sammy Award (Syracuse Area Music Award) include Auburn-based band Stone Soul Foundation.

The Citizen

It's no wonder that the best rock category nominees up for a Sammy Award (Syracuse Area Music Award) include Auburn-based band Stone Soul Foundation. The group rips open the first track on its "Into the Flames" album with lyrics "Feeling like I know what to do/ I ain't doubting myself no more."

The five-man Auburn sensation is a mix of blues, funk, metal and rock, and they're not about to back down from the challenge of living the undefined musical life.

That first track, called "Walk Tall," opens with some finger snaps and "Ah ah ahs" that mimic some of that funky old wah-wah '70s soul. Although the lyrics are expected as a culmination of the band's five-year journey as musicians, nobody expects the driving lead and rhythm guitars to pulse through that sassy beginning. That kind of much-welcomed surprise is a sign that the band known as Stone Soul Foundation is not the same five men that made the first album, "Scenic Route," in 2003, but a whole new band with cohesion and a lot to prove.

One part of Stone Soul's foundation is lead vocalist and percussion expert Sean Muldoon, who looks as though he is raging into battle on stage with his dreadlocks and full beard. Muldoon is known for "flailing around on stage like a crazed witch doctor," according to his bandmates and his vocal influences are heavily spiked by Wilson Pickett of "Mustang Sally" fame and James Hetfield of Metallica.

Jeff Wiggins is part of the band's two-guitar assault along with Dan Dennis. Whether it's one playing the solo or the two trying to melt the audience's faces off, the players are inseparable in sound on the new album.

Holding up the band's insistent rhythm is the irreplaceable Doug Paradise on bass. With Stillman serving as the organizing beat of the band, Paradise is known as the machine that drives it along. The band's complicated rhythms on "Into the Flames" would not be possible without Paradise's insistent, full bass sound.

From "Scenic Route," the track "Midnight Lady" opens with higher-than-metal male vocals in a style close to that of Foreigner's Lou Gramm and with the same intensity. Listeners can already hear at this point that there is something worth listening for as well with the showy front guitar solo.

"Scenic Route's" third track, "Heaven," opens with Pink Floyd-esque stylings on vocals and guitar. A softer mood infuses the song, but it lacks the heat and personality of the later tracks on "Into the Flames" such as the primal "Get Up." With a primal drum beat rivaling most modern rock bands, drummer Shane Stillman opens "Get Up" with a technique he learned from a producer who told him, "drum like a caveman." The riff pierces the soul with its insistent rhythm and relents shortly to two guitars who feed on the bridge-like section that follows. It is clear, before the listener even gets to the funk-infused, saxxed up tracks "Now" (featuring Brian Dobbie of Ruby Shooz fame) and "Funk #50" that this is a band who have taken five elements and made them into one stone soul sound.

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"Love the CD from start to finish...It has a real classic Deep Purple/Black Sabbath feel/sound to it and I really dig the Cd (Electric Valley) and the band as a whole! Has to be one of the best bands I've heard in a long time!"

Chaotic Riffs Magazine