Thursday, 3 January 2013

Motherslug - ST (album review)

Melbourne, Australia's five-piece stoner doom band Motherslug's self-titled debut four song EP is a damn fine introduction to a damn fine band.  Motherslug play a slimy brand of doom that sits on a meteorite drifting just past the edge of vision, beyond the reaches of darkness blazing the sky up upon entry into the atmosphere of the listener's skull to slam into the brain.

There's some familiar sounds here and one might be tempted to fault the band for not disguising their influences enough, or some other such argument, but that wouldn't be listening, that would only be hearing.

While there's no denying that second track, "Rollin'", has some similarities to "Hole in the Sky", I'd say it owes more in parentage to Kyuss than Black Sabbath.  Cam's vocals and lyrical content are more akin to John Garcia than anything Ozzy ever did, but that's more an accident of birth than anything.  What makes this comparison tick are the fuzz tone and walloping drums which have more in common with the cadence of Homme and Bjork.  Motherslug's spaced out explorations are Desert Rock almost by definition imbibing Arizona's finest, while even at their most lysergic, Black Sabbath never took off on flights of improvisational fancy.  Black Sabbath are one of the most highly, one might even say, severely structured bands on the planet.

Similarly, the beginning of "Devils Rise" might sound, on the surface, like it owes a kind of creative debt to Led Zeppelin, it more accurately reflects the influence of Electric Wizard.  The way the song is structured around the the Big Slow Riff speaks heavily to Jus and co.  But really, I'm setting up straw man arguments left right and center here in a lame attempt to introduce Motherslug's musical heritage, you know, 'this is where they're coming from'.  There are also glimmers of Black Sabbath and Kyuss in "Devils Rise" as well, but it's all academic really, what I'm trying to say here is that Motherslug build from a solid foundation and take up the mantle of hard rock and metal gurus for a new day and age.  Magi of the wicked, the fuzzy, the doomed.

All four songs here are great, I like all of them, but the better of the four are the two in which Motherslug shows more of a unique identity, where they venture out into that dense fog without so much as a familiar-sounding riff.  The first and last tracks are where the band really starts to come together and forge its own sound, catapulting their profile from a band that understands their chosen genre and exhibits tastes of the highest standard, to one that forces it into new and unconquered territory.

"Symptoms (of the Human Race)" is a pulsating storm of static-y fuzz and gigantic swaying hooks.  The song starts off innocently enough with a chunking fuzz riff and noises broadcast from some otherworldly swirling void but soon blows the listener's head off like a model house in an atomic blast test.  It becomes harder and harder to resist the rushing currents of explosive power, swaying dizzily from the rampaging juggernaut and before long one is swept up in the maelstrom, "Symptoms of the HU-MAN".  "Space Man" explodes from a worm hole just above the spinning blue marble of the earth to seed the clouds with spores of doom.  After a short fuzz solo, the band crashes back in to "crush ... it ... DOWN!"  When that confrontation takes place, the heavens tremble and the sky cracks in twain.  Thus stands revealed the stunning onslaught of Motherslug in all its slimy glory.

Highlights include: "Symptoms [of the Human Race]" and "Space Man"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 26:03

From: Melbourne, Australia

Genre: Doom, Stoner, Desert Rock, Space Rock, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Kyuss, Lord of the Grave, Mage

Release Date: November 1, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Watch from the back bedroom window of the farm house as spores rain death upon the landscape.

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