‘quality sludge from a band who know exactly what they’re doing‘ – Ian Maleney on Slomatics‘ recently reissued Kalceanna and Flooding The Weir
In pretty much all walks of musical life, there are certain things that, when done well, will result in effective material. Take techno for example. It doesn’t matter how many times Jeff Mills or Robert Hood bash out a beat on the 909, it’ll always be understood in a certain light, it’ll always be heard in a particular way, and it’ll always provoke a certain type of reaction. Such is the nature of tradition; something is done over and over again with slight variation until it becomes a form, which is accepted and engaged in, if not always expanded upon.
Few rulebooks get torn up on either of these two reissues from Belfast’s Slomatics, but that hardly matters. Two LPs worth of heavy, sludgy doom-ish metal, low on high frequencies, high on the only thing that matters: Riffs. Listening through the albums back-to-back, it’s difficult to pin-point where one song ends and another begins – I can’t now give you the title of a particular song without looking for the tracklist – but their near-maddening consistency is at least of a very high quality.
There are only a couple of missteps, if you could even call them that. I could count on one hand the amount of records I’ve listened to this year with guitar solos on them – old prejudices die very hard – but the one solo of sorts on Flooding The Weir, during ‘The Technique’, is a little flat. Whether it’s a case of the slightly flat recording not doing the moment justice or a case of uninspired playing, I’m not sure, but it just never feels like it’s cutting loose from the rest of the track. It lacks a little catharsis, a little adrenaline – it’s too comfy where it is. There’s not a lot at stake with it.
It’s soon back to the main attraction though: riffs, glorious riffs. Slomatics know their stock-in-trade very well and though they’re all roughly around the same tempo, roughly all in the same mode, they produce a beautiful kind of heft with their sludge. There’s a real weight to it, one that can inspire moments of air-drumming or desk-bound head-banging with ease. The great difference between these two records is the increased presence and centrality of vocals on Kalceanna. They come rushing out of the distance, all distorted and delayed, adding a little humanity to the otherwise electric edifice. Like most vocals with this type of music – and even with a band like Kowloon Walled City – there’s a fairly limited range of shouting that can go on. It would be interesting to hear a more experimental or ambitious approach to vocals within the glutinous environment that Slomatics create, but the voice that is there is nonetheless effective. It’s got just enough of that catharsis I was talking about earlier.
Anyway, this is quality sludge from a band who know exactly what they’re doing. It’s not the most original, paradigm-shifting pair of records you’re going to come across, but ten years on from the original release of Flooding the Weir, you could say they sound timeless.