Sep 12, 2012
Slomatics – "A Hocht" ...
Slomatics’ guys have broad shoulders with heavy tunes due to their previous militancy in legendary bands from the lively Irish (in a wider sense) doom scene, i.e. The Cosmonaut and The Naut. This is the same root from which another cool super heavy act, twin bass sludge/doom monster band War Iron, grew. Surely both bands took new directions (regarding type of riffing, singing style etc.), but the common ground is crushing heaviness, even if there is double bass in War Iron and no bass in Slomatics. And this is one of the curious features in Slomatics, who love play slow, as announced in the name, and who are having a great fun in crushing your bones even without a bass!
As a matter of fact, album A Hocht also reflects an important change in the band’s story. Drummer/vocalist Joe left the band at the end of 2011 and so Marty, former The Naut member and present-day drummer in War Iron, joined as drummer/vocalist with guitarists Chris and David. So here is a new connection with War Iron and a new input in the band. So what you’ve got here, for the happiness of all doomsters, is a wealth of raw, ferocious and majestic, downtuned and downtempo heaviness getting inspiration from or variably reminding of the Melvins, Electric Wizard, Conan, Horse Latitudes, Cathedral (especially for the chanting style) and funeral doom as well as dark ambient, dark folk and space rock.
Slomatics’ guys like the tag of “heavy rock band”, though, so you’re going to find groove too. Album A Hocht is not terribly long, almost 36 minutes and is varied enough for making that time flow away easily, in spite fo the delightfully unbearable heaviness, which, for me at least, has been a wee bit increasing compared to the previous releases. Track “Inner Space” is opened by an heavy and obscure, dark ambient/doom instrumental intro with spacey effects and a slowly and inesorably plodding sound which is announcing something great, occult and terrible to come. The final call for occult heaviness is left to the fast trembling of the cymbals emerging from the dark buzz and then dying out in an uneasy silence. From that very silence a new buzz raises, the mammoth fuzzy growl of the guitars in track “Flame On” that sounds almost like the distant call of a horn resounding across huge valleys, an endless taiga or across centuries from a distant past.
The two guitars provide their own simple and heavily downtuned riffs tightly paired so that they are able to build up a monumental buzz rolling into a circular, tantric rhythm reminiscent of Electric Wizard’s hypnotic doped lithanies. In general the difference in downtuning and in pedal/gear oddities applied by Chris and David to their guitars creates a subtle but interesting decoupled echoing effect giving depth to the otherwise dull hypnotic rhythm. The drumming is surely slow, pounding and ritual but inconstant, thereby in contrast with the rhythmic chanting and circular riffing. Marty’s vocals are roaring and definitely sludgy. In spite of their being gritty and quite “solid”, vocals are curiously fighting for emerging in a sort of ghostly way from the loud leading rhythmic buzz. The vocal parts are more declamating the lyrics than singing them, a bit like in Cathedral. However the strain of the vocals is such that they get smeared by the huge noise of the instruments so that the words are actually lost, but the dramatic message is conveyed by Marty’s poweful performance. The subsequent two tracks, Beyond Acid Canyon and Return To Kraken, have been the first “taste” of the new album before the release.
You won’t get bored with Slomatics. Mammoth sounds are not meant to be always slow. As a matter of fact the following track, “Return To Kraken”, is introduced by a killer, dynamic slow- to mid-tempo super-groovy riff able to drag you into wild headbanging while scraping your skin off. Halfway through the heavy rocking charge the band introduces a new direction to the sound, the pace slows down and you plunge back into dark funereal doomy atmospheres. But a curious, solitary vibration of slide guitar acts as a feeble but tenacious trait-d’union with the return of the massive groove at the end of this badass track.
Uneasy feelings are on the contrary evoked by the noise-laden, almost industrial-sounding intro of the suite “Tramontane”, where the blows on the drums make up a solitary dialogue with the guitars busy with monotonic buzz and reverberated noise. Then, like in a rocket ready to leave, gas is eventually inflamed in the engines and Doooom explodes again. The leading monumental riff rapidly creates Wizardesque, gloomy and retro-horror atmospheres also thanks to the employment of keyboard-like insertions. Marty’s powerful singing, or better declamation, is swallowed by the incredible growl of the guitars and truly seems to seep through the stones of a cemetery.
The sixth track “Blackwood” is unusually and unexpectedly soothing with its delicate acoustic melody and the soft, folk-like female chanting. The background noise made by amps, pedals or whatever, almost creates a peaceful effect of water and waves. But we know that this calmness can’t last too much. So the seventh track “Theme From Remora” sees the return of the booming roar of Chris’ and David’s guitars. Distortion of the guitars is turning the tantric leading riff into huge trombones hieratically announcing … what … the devastation of an earthquake, the end of the world, the opening of gates of Hell … And everything is swallowed by a chilling, growing chaotic noise which acts as a bridge to the final track, the spacey and extremely dark “Outer Space”. There the leading plodding riff is strongly reverberated and is sort of floating around in an empty space where also strongly tortured vocals emerge before getting lost in the dark cosmos. The sensation is scary, like being on a distant planet and being suddenly invested by the wave of the very last sounds and vibrations coming from a far-off dead planet. Bang!
The “experience” A Hocht is out as limited transparent (!) orange vinyl by Head Of Crom Records and as CD by Burning World Records/Roadburn Records. The release is graced by the impressive artwork by Tony Roberts, well known to the Conan’s fans. Also, make yourself a favour, pay a visit to the fine blog The Sludgelord and enjoy the brand new interview with Slomatics’ cool folks. You’ll love them.
Words: Marilena Moroni
Head Of Crom Website
Burning World Records