I bought this album initially as something I might like to write about. I knew I’d like it as I’d heard some of it and all of Slabdragger’s brilliant first release, Regress, on Youtube. Then I changed my mind and thought, “no I’m just going to enjoy this as a fan”.
I knew by the last note of the first song that I couldn’t just enjoy it, I had to write something.
It’s fair to say Slabdragger are more established than the subjects of most of my articles and certainly don’t need my endorsement, but ultimately the aim of this blog is to spread the word about the music I love, and listening to this album I’d think these fellas made a list of everything I want to hear in an album an made it for me. (Cheers guys). I hope to reach some people who haven’t listened before and turn them onto this band.
So without further ado…
They are made up of Sam Thredder on Guitar and Vocals. Yusuf Tary on Bass and Vocals and Jack Newnham on Drums (the drums on the recording are by Severin Black who has since departed). They hail from Croydon.
It is believed in local folk lore the Gods placed Slabdragger in Croydon to atone for the borough spawning the monolithic cock bag that is Dane Bowers and the disappointment brought upon the English football team of fellow Croydonite Roy Hodgson. It is said upon release of their third album Dane will be replaced as the benchmark of popularised mediocraty by a member of One Direction and England will appoint a successful manager.
Please don’t make us wait 5 years this time!
Style and Sound
Doomy, Sludge metal in the vein of bands such as Sleep, Yob, Sabbath (obviously) with a nod to the mighty Pink Floyd in some of the interesting sounds used.
The full bodied, warm, heavy guitar sound is amongst the most satisfying I’ve heard in the genre as are the range of vocal style used. There have deep roars, shrieks and clean vocals, all used to good effect. There is very strong drum work and some nice bass solo’s add to the overall quality of the sound.
First off there’s the album art provided by the supremely talented Jimmy Pearson. I’m a huge fan of thoughtful album art and this is the best I’ve seen in some time. It really sets the tone for the sci-fi adventure concept of the albums songs perfectly.
To say the album is epic is no understatement. If you do invest the time and sit down with headphones or take a long drive, you will not be disappointed. You, take note of the lyrics and you will discover the story and start to appreciate how the music is also used to tell this story.
Each track is a satisfying (cosmic) journey of sledgehammer heavy doom riffs and excellent and variant vocal delivery. It’s slow, ponderous and bluesy in parts and fast and aggressive in others.
Whilst 4 of the 5 songs are over 10 minutes, what is refreshing about this album, when compared to some others who produce long songs, is that at no point does any song lose its way or give you the impression there’s something been put in purely to fatten the track out. You can immerse yourself in them and wonder where the last 10 minutes have gone.
The wonderful warm bluesy opening of Mercury Blues draws you in and the track soon becomes an all out sludge fest, with riffs that head banging was made for. The pace increases towards the end which leads nicely into the more aggressive Evacuate. I get elements of southern sludge such as Black Tusk in this track, which is a very good thing. Its the shortest song on the album, but it doesn’t lack in impact or delivery.
Shrine of Debauchery’s opening uses guitars and additional sounds to create a sinister cosmic atmosphere. This fits well with the theme of the lyrics which seem to be portray some form of disturbed alien cult practising their horrific rituals. Is it wrong that I love these lyrics? Probably. Anyway, if ever there was a case for how well musical delivery can depict lyrical theme, this song should be Exhibit A.
Dawncrusher Rising is a wonderful brutal onslaught that has a sublime breakdown and drum work at around 9 and a half minutes. This provides the theme for the rest of the song.
The album ends with Implosion Rites which starts with a plodding riff interspersed with heavy sections with deep guttural vocals. A great breakdown 7 minutes in introduces the second part of the track, a heavier section followed by a spaced out bluesy solo. This picks up pace before taking us back to the opening riff. Weighing in at 17 and a half minutes this really is an epic, well thought out ending to an incredible album.
My musically astute 3 year old asked me, when playing the first song, “is this Rock ‘n’ Roll,” so I told her yes it is. She then demanded I play it again when it finished. It’s the only CD I’ve played her that she’s been remotely interested in (although she is partial to a bit of The Trooper by Iron Maiden). I don’t know if this little story is a sign of it’s quality, but it certainly endears the album to me even more than the undoubted quality of its content alone.
If you don’t at least buy this release (you really should), you should give it a listen in its entirety on Youtube. You will not be disappointed.
((I do not work for Holy Roar, it’s just good value and a great idea))