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SLOATH — Sloath (LP, Riot Season)

Posted: May 30th, 2010, by Simon Minter

Sloath exist in an ever-more-crowded, and increasingly tiresome corner of the musical world. They play crushing, sludgy heavy rock with the tempo turned down to a snail’s pace. As do many other bands. Crushing, sludgy, slow-tempo heavy rock is becoming the alternative band’s modus operandi du jour, because perhaps it’s the kind of music that’s often misconstrued as easy to make. It’s not, which is why so many bands fail at this stuff. Anybody can play a slow riff over and over, but not all can make doing so engaging, powerful and effective.

Sloath get things pretty right on their self-titled debut album. Three tracks only, none less than ten minutes long, the last almost twenty. What they seem to have grasped is that when you’re making this kind of noise, it starkly exposes every element, and demands of the listener an appreciation of repetition that had damned well better get rewarded. So when writing about this it’s difficult to do much beyond pointing out some of the important turning points in each track: overall, this is an album of hard riffs, slow speeds and a seemingly non-shifting sensibility, but it’s surprisingly rich and crafted when pulled apart.

‘Black Hole’ blasts in with a full frequency wall of sound. Feedback curls and meaningless vocal wails are swallowed into long howls of guitar before a glass-shattering six-string scream cuts things to an abrupt end. ‘Cane Trader’ seems almost traditional at first – a circling riff with skittering drum patterns. Five minutes in, it begins to break things apart, with the introduction of dive-bombing guitar lines which drag the tune down into a deeper circle of noise. ‘Please Maintain’ begins as almost tender, with a sweet melody turning, through three notes, into a dark place. Echoes of plucked notes are warm and comforting. Around nine minutes in, the rug is pulled and things get ramped up, get more serious. Speakers can barely contain the squall of layers that are repeatedly added (one of which is almost a guitar solo, unwound to a tenth of normal playing speed). After seventeen minutes, we reach the other side of the storm, with shimmering echoes of cymbal gradually bringing the album to a close. The in-the-red fuzz sounds of a recording that can’t really handle the volume in the studio adds a certain physicality to the album – like it’s angrily contained within the silver disc, but bursting at its edge.

Sloath on MySpace
Riot Season website

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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