A review of "Regress" by Slabdragger (Holy Roar)
If you were to delve into the apocalyptic womb of Heavy Metal, “Regress” is the colossal beast that you would find. It is summoned here in a valiant crusade to save Heavy Metal, its leaders and its adversaries.
This beast will tear off your balls, replacing the contents of your scrotum with swollen spheres of steel and like a dwarf afoot a mountain, you shall stand in awe. Slabdragger strike upon various nuances of stoner, doom, sludge and groove awesomeness throughout this entire album, while forging a sound of their own. It leaves you with a recognisable sense of fatigue after the whooping you have just subsequently received.
When the initial swell of bass kicks in to the opening riff of 'Bal El-Mandeb' you feel as though you are being dragged into something you don’t want to do, but when you arrive you cant get enough. This album begins as a headbangers wet dream and continues to meander though huge doses of ‘Heavy’ with its fist held high in air, pounding in sync with Slabdragger's might.
'Erroneous Maximus' has one of those riffs that you wished went on for longer, but it is the fact that its duration is limited or infrequent that makes it so great. Track two of this album is exactly that, but in the form of a full song. Erroneous Maximus is, by a long shot, the shortest track on the album and has a certain individuality amongst the rest of the tunes without seeming out of place.
‘Splice The Mainbrace’ has a real jam feel to it, sweet guitar licks and 70's-style bass doodles that revert back to a solid driving stoner groove and pounding doom off-shoots. This track changes somewhat sporadically between riffs but never falters. Slabdragger have a real talent for luring the listener into unexpected weaves and bends, this is apparent in each track and throughout the album as a whole.
‘Iron Vulture’ is a fuckin’ beast! This track opens with a feeling of grandeur as though you are being led to war by a giant iron bird. We then descend in to a bleak void of low doom guitars, swelling bass and a vacant and haunting vocal. This is followed with yet another bludgeoning of horror, a hint of thrash rubbed in there for good measure then finishing on a slow and powerful groove containing a psychedelic lead guitar and some tasty feedback. This throbs into regression; a concoction of unsettling noisy rumblings beneath some poignant samples including quotes from Howard Beale (Network) Marvin the Martian and George Carlin.
We are brought back from the bleak and honest reflections of the world with another course of riffneck inducing splendour. 'Murky Fen' is another relatively short one that cements what would seem to be Slabdragger;s signature drive, to a terrifyingly slow rumbling of guitars and a devastatingly evil vocal. Here the listener is reminded of Slabdragger's inconceivably satisfying sound. This track has heavy as fuck guitars that are rife with tonal perfection and a clarity that is often lacking in this style of music. There is a fluent variation of vocal stylings that are rarely repeated through out the album. Tremendous bass throbs alternate from immersing the songs in a wave of filth, to adding a new depth to the album with a kind of proto-metal groove. This is all bound together with an expertly played and seriously well recorded kit. The overall sound of the drums on this record, for me personally, escalates the quality of the album. They are hard, thunderous and played perfectly in conjunction with the rest of the instrumentation. Throughout this album the drums are unceasingly clear, never becoming saturated thus reinforcing Slabdragger's overall drive.
Regress’s penultimate track ‘Woe Betide’ opens with a classic stoner riff and again has a marvellous jam feel to it with an awesome guitar solo that maintains the stoner quality of the tune, this is shortly followed by an excellent wah bass solo which escalates the groove of the song. This is a predominantly instrumental track featuring a single line of monstrous vocals. Later, this tune rings out and blends seamlessly into the final track of the album.
‘Trichome Odyssey’ certainly sounds like an ending track, an apocalyptic finale to a devilish tale. It would appear that Slabdragger have approached the writing of this album with the idea of composing a selection of beastly tracks that retain their own strength and individuality but when merged together, form one gigantic and monolithic creation. Slabdragger have not simply written a number of songs that have been recorded and listed on a CD, but have forged eight tracks that exist as one. This is not to say that the songs are densely similar or too alike but that the album has a remarkable flow that leads the audience on a journey across vast baron lands encountering great dangers and treacherous realms of madness.
This album represents a purity buried in a style of music that in today's musical society has become overwhelmingly cluttered with sub genres and aesthetics. This exhibit of solidarity eradicates all unnecessary filler and like a well-oiled machine provides the listener with a bone crunching display of unrelenting doom and sludge. ‘Regress’ is an album that is not to be overlooked; the three sculptors of this gargantuan offering should be praised for their achievement with this album as they have raised the bar of all that is heavy. I could continue to describe this release with a list of words and phrases acute to the sound that Slabdragger create but I fear this would fail to illustrate what they have achieved. We urge you to pull your poo-soaked fingers out and devour this album!
'Regress' has been released on Holy Roar Records. With accolades such as Rolo Tomassi, Gallows, Young Legionnaire and Pulled Part By Horses, one would assume this label may not usually be associated with doom and stoner bands but Slabdragger make for an awesome addition in our books. You can find the band on Facebook and Myspace.
Slabdragger will be playing a Big Spaceship event on 13th November at Royal Park Cellars, Leeds with Wizards Beard and Black Moth. Be sure to get down to this one, its going to be off the fuckin hook.