diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

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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


Posted: May 4th, 2010, by Simon Minter

Hey Colossus certainly know how to churn out the misanthropic, churning noise, don’t they? This is their sixth album (at least), coming along shortly after the previous one. I’m convinced that Hey Colossus were, in the past, some kind of joke and/or irony band, but now they sound totally serious. Can anybody sustain this amount of relentlessness and intensity, and not mean it?

There are eight tracks here. The two longest bookend the rest, suggesting a palindrome of a collection with the title track hovering around the centre. ‘Question’ is one long, hellish intro, with abstract guitar in the background, the occasional bass drone, and a Sunn o)))-style two-note riff chiming in to set the tone. This all seeps into a general miasma of noise in which distorted screams seem to float, everything rushing back and forward on the stereo channels. It really is somewhat full-on, and sets the tone perfectly. ’13 Millers Court’ next solidifies the two-note riff into chugging, da-da-da repetition. Then come the vocals – like Aphex Twin’s ‘Come to Daddy’ gone further south. There’s a song in here, but it’s piled underneath a metric ton of noise and derangement. It’s like Can if they’d grown up in 1970s Birmingham. After ‘Shithouse’, a random noise collage, comes ‘Pope Long Haul III’, picking up the pace to something approximating Big Business/Melvins/Karp style thunking noise, which is then slammed repeatedly into a wall. It has some sort of groove, but buried underneath wailing screams, feedback and odd tinkles of what sound like electronic noise. This finally begins to expose itself, as the track disintegrates into something similar to Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising connecting sound passages, before dropping into some kind of musique concrete weirdness.

At the album’s centre is ‘Eurogrumble’, which heads freefalling into a downward spiral. It’s got upbeat rhythm, dissonant noise, screaming and wailing, wound into a never-ending roll of energy. Out of this comes ‘Dredges’, a well-named shifting tectonic plate of a tune, with vocals become distorted to a point of disintegration. ‘King Come’ then reflects the earlier ’13 Millers Court’ – (superb) riffs and structure, but played as if from the inside of Hawkwind’s broken speakers. Finally, ‘Wait Your Turn’ echoes ‘Question’ with a strident, portentous feel: slowly, heavily played notes tracing a path through the endless feedback and reverb, eventually collapsing into the intense and repeated hammering of a single note, voices burbling in the background, squelches and electronic squeaks gasping for air, as an insistent drumbeat attempts to tie it all together. Finally, it stutters to a halt, with no extended outro, no long fade, just silence.

So are Hey Colossus a joke band? I really don’t think so, and this album makes me think even more that perhaps they never were. There’s a moment about four minutes into ‘Eurogrumble’ where a guitar line peeps out of the noise – this proves effortlessly that the band are in full control, and have crafted this stuff very carefully. It’s pretty magnificent.

Hey Colossus website
Riot Season website

HEY COLOSSUS/DETHSCALATOR — Hey Colossus Vs Dethscalator (LP, Black Labs)

Posted: January 24th, 2010, by Simon Minter

Hey Colossus have just one track on this, the latest in their growing line of full-length releases. And full-length it certainly is: their ‘Eyes For An Eye / Unlive Wire / Ain’t No Love In The Mallet’ medley is over twenty-one minutes in length, and it’s pretty gruelling stuff. I’m sure that this band started out as something of a joke, or a fun side project – and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way, just that I’m not sure at what point in their career they became this brutal. This isn’t twenty-plus minutes of screaming and noise, however; it’s more unsettling than that. They create a whirling, miasmic confusion of echoing sound and muttering, distant voices, that’s as frightening as it is compelling and, frankly, weird. Dethscalator pitch in with five tracks of – in this context – far more normal music. Extract these tracks into their own release however, and they’d be pretty surreal in themselves: strangled, urgent vocals sputtered over growling pseudo-black metal riffing and moody, stalking rhythms. They’re at their most effective when they warp things out a bit, especially on the fantastically-named ‘You Know Nothing About Cars Or Martial Arts’, on which the vocals are special-effected into all kinds of weird places, over a never-ending repetition of riff that pounds the listener into the kind of delirious, happy dark place that Circle manage to do when at their most rockingest. This is the first release from Riot Season offshoot Black Labs, and it’s set the bar pretty high. More!

Hey Colossus website
Dethscalator website
Black Labs on Myspace

TODD — Big Ripper (CD, Riot Season)

Posted: January 17th, 2010, by Simon Minter

Todd’s first release in a couple of years is a giant sludgy beast, a collapsing timber mill of a record that the jaunty lumberjack on its sleeve can’t even hope to prepare you for. They’ve always been fearsomely loud, and sleazily proud, but this might just be the album on which they really got it together. It’s got the noise, distortion, mayhem and feedback that’ll be all too frighteningly familiar to any previous listeners, but on Big Ripper it’s wrapped up in an unexpectedly new and thoughtful package.

The album spends much of its time screaming into your brain and piling up freakish glimpses into a selection of dark places, but there is real structure and, dare I say it, artistry at work here. First track ‘Track Side Fire’ has an actual middle eight, and an almost conventional song structure, for example. ‘The (R)web’, as another case study, adds real texture and breaks down into a weird, random set of echoed notes, like honest-to-goodness proper experimental music. By the time we reach ‘French and in France’, a strange, slow-paced lurch of a song, echoed guitars and feedback squalls dropping in before disappearing away into a hallucinogenic struggle against noise, it suddenly becomes clear what’s going on here. Todd are traditional hard rock filtered through today’s post-everything musical landscape, slammed up against a wall of alcohol, drugs and unhealthy interests. They crunch and rock like violent thugs, but they’ve got hearts of black gold and dangerous, sharp brains ticking over on their collective back burner. Final track ‘French and out of France’ is the flipside to mayhem – a creepy, relentless, distorted stalker’s presence, that burrows into the floor as a final, belching digital pulse leading into silence. It’s a fittingly intense and confusing end to an album that refuses to ever do what you’d expect.

Todd on Myspace
Riot Season