Slabdragger – Rise of the Dawncrusher

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I first saw Croydon bludgers Slabdragger three years ago and, having been completely flattened by their bone-crunching resonance, immediately bought first album Regress (Holy Roar Records). Despite it being good, I subsequently felt they were a band to be witnessed rather than merely heard.That all changes here. Sophomore long-player Rise of the Dawncrusher (Holy Roar Records) is a mammoth, sprawling journey through the black holes of the cosmos, an achievement all the more amazing given the setbacks the band has suffered in recent years. The musical twangs of opener ‘Mercenary Blues’ carry enough portent to warn of the forthcoming walls of forest-levelling sound and, despite the melodic hollers of Yusuf Tary and Jim Threader, the ensuing riff grabs your soul and sticks it in a blender. Stoner-Sludge in tone and feel yet Psychedelic in its warping terror, the difference here is the wonderfully enlivening, Progressive nature of the linking passages: versatile verses with vocal switches between Blackened screams and guttural roars, still underpinned by the cavernous yet occasionally cascading stellar pathway.

Whatever Slabdragger had before, the ability to flick such a heavy pattern through the chords has multiplied their appeal tenfold. With four of the five tracks here easily surpassing the ten-minute mark, the listener is in for the long haul, yet will not for a second feel dragged along. The elongated coda of ‘…Blues’ possesses an electrifying emotion that rips apart the fabric of the template; while the segue into the bulldozing, YOB-tinged ‘Evacuate!’ pulverises the ears and introduces a rampant, occasionally nasty Jazz-infused groove. Severin Black’s drum pattern following the ominous intro of ‘Shrine of Debauchery’ is simple yet potent, hauling Tary’s terrifying bassline in its wake and setting the tone for the claustrophobia of the swelling, pulsating body.

And this is merely halfway in. The album’s last two tracks cover 33 minutes and crush so comprehensively they create a vacuum, riding and bouncing off planets as they travel along. The beauty of this second slab of vinyl is the paradoxical compatibility between its extremes: the implosive power of ‘Dawncrusher Rising’s opening gambit begins so steadily, growing almost unnoticeably to a gravestone-cracking rut whilst remaining compelling, hypnotic, masterful. The monstrous Blues of closer ‘Implosion Rites’, meanwhile, is Cream slowed to a crawl and delivered by Zeus, Poseidon and Hades: the slowed rhythms fulminating and muscular, the harmonised vocals Ozzy-esque yet resplendent, the pedal effects gradually halting the earth’s rotation.

Quite simply, and to retain the mythical analogy, this is Atlas: utterly despondent, pissed off with his fate, and deciding to fling the planets around after a few beers and a reefer. Rise of the Dawncrusher is fucking incredible, an unmissable masterpiece of both its genre and its times.

9.5/10.0

PAUL QUINN

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Video: Idolatry – “Clefs au Chambre de Tristêsse”

Idolatry. Top (left to right): Nox Invictus (Guitar), Daemonikus Abominor (Drums), Lycaon Vollmond (Guitar), and  Center: Lörd Matzigkeitus (Vocals) - Photo credit: Pandemic Photography (Kevin Eisenlord)

Idolatry. Top (left to right): Nox Invictus (Guitar), Daemonikus Abominor (Drums), Lycaon Vollmond (Guitar), and Center: Lörd Matzigkeitus (Vocals) – Photo credit: Pandemic Photography (Kevin Eisenlord)

Edmonton, AB black metallers Idolatry is streaming their music video for “Clefs au Chambre de Tristêsse,” created by NVS Productions from Nashville, Tennessee, who has also produced videos for Wormreich (US), Hades (Norway), and Borgne (Switzerland) below.

‘Infection Born of Ending’ a 7’ split with Columbus, Ohio black metal group Unrest featuring the unique Idolatry track is available to purchase through BigCartel. There will only be 40, hand numbered copies available.

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Track Listing
Side A: Unrest – Of Filth
Side B: Idolatry – Clefs au Chambre de Tristêsse / …Once Thought of Webs

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Idolatry on Last.fm
Idolatry on Bigcartel

Atriarch – An Unending Pathway

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I know that I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, but, goodness me, Atriarch’s latest foray into the blackened musical underworld, the beguiling An Unending Pathway (Relapse) is a very strange record. Strange in a good way, you understand. It’s strange in a disconcerting, haunting and sometimes unnerving way as well, if truth be known. Are you getting the picture yet? Yep, the third album from these curious citizens of Portland, Oregon is all kinds of odd.

Atriarch’s artistic growth gathered pace with their last album The Ritual of Passing (Profound Lore) which was a veritable smorgasbord of musical ideas, breathless interludes and a properly scary undercurrent running throughout. Having moved to Relapse Records, you would not be entirely surprised if the band played things to the gallery and delivered something relatively safe. Proverbial hats off to them then as An Unending Pathway, if anything, packs in more ideas and textures than its predecessor and, despite the often diverse, uncompromising approaches and innovations they have opted for, feels completely cohesive and immersive, In other words, I like it a lot.

Opening track ‘Entropy’ begins proceedings with distinct echoes of Slipknot’s ‘515’, an imagined Hades vomiting up its gnarled and gnarly denizens from their sulphuric lair into our seemingly doomed world. In terms of setting atmosphere and a sense of menace of impending doom, it does it with remarkable aplomb. Dark chants and incantations preface a dark rock track that, vocally, sounds akin to what would happen had The Fall’s Mark E Smith had ever accepted an invitation to join Black Sabbath.

There’s a similarly moody gothic undercurrent to ‘Collapse’ with its tribal drum patterns, evil monk like chanting and slow burn menace. The military two step drumming at the beginning of ‘Revenant’ soon gives way to a black metal influenced noise rock that is bristling with malevolence and tortured anguish – Atriarch’s lot is clearly not a happy one. This deep sense of melancholy reaches its zenith on the brilliant ‘Bereavement’ where the black metal riffing and harrowing screams seem entirely apposite for the song’s subject matter; vocalist Lenny Smith puts in quite an extraordinary stint here where you believe completely in the singer’s pain and anguish.

The efficient balancing act between hard riffing and brooding melody is a key aspect across the whole album and that light and shade delivery keeps you engaged throughout. Whilst the black metal influences are nicely extolled there is no attempt to pummel the listener into submission: although claustrophobic, there is still room to take a breath and for the songs to inveigle their way into your cerebral cortex. This coaxing and coaching of the listener is perhaps best shown on the cacophonous delight that is ‘Rot’; rarely can bodily decomposition sound so appalling yet, in parallel, appealing.

An Unending Path is perhaps best experienced alone, in the dark with candles and lots of red wine. It is a richly textured album, full of strange vignettes, harrowing imagery and not a little guile and cunning. It’s the sort of record that you don’t think you will like, don’t think you’re enjoying when listening to it but you keep coming back to it, time and again, for another glimpse into the darkness that Atriarch have conjured. Like I said, strange: very strange indeed.

 

7.5/10

Atriarch on Facebook

 

MAT DAVIES