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SLOWER: Slower

A whole album of Doom/Sludge metal interpretations of Slayer songs. It’s a novel idea, especially when you consider that Slayer’s sound is largely founded in fast tempos and breakneck speed. However, it’s worth noting from the outset that these arrangements aren’t simply Slayer tracks played slower (as the name might suggest). Sure, at times this is 100% the case and it must be said that it is strangely satisfying hearing these iconic thrash metal riffs played super slow, downturned, and with a fuzzed-out distortion. However, Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) has used some of his compositional/arrangement nous to re-frame these well-known classics with far more care and attention than just dialing down the metronome, and dropping down the tuning.

When you slow down these tracks, they tend to go for longer than the originals, so the 5 track release is long enough for the album. I’m a big fan of the Seasons in the Abyss record, so the choice of the track listing is welcome too.

This album carries more street cred than the typical ‘tribute’ style album due to the gravitas of the players who play on the release; members of Fu Manchu, Kylesa, Kyuss, Monolord, Lowrider and Year Of The Cobra all contribute and bring a polish and legitimacy to the concept of taking an iconic band’s songs and giving them a doom style makeover. Whilst a lot of the credit and heavy lifting on this release should go to Fu Manchu guitarist Bob Balch I’d suggest the MVP’s (to my ears) are Amy Barrysmith & Laura Pleasants-the way their vocals drift over the down-tuned riffing is an unexpected surprise and a major point of difference between these versions and the originals. The fresh take on the vocals makes these arrangements stand on their own and adds a real layer of intrigue to the release. If the vocals had been handled in a different manner (more in line with the originals), this album might have been destined to be a one-listen-wonder / novelty release. As it turns out, these arrangements take on new life and are worthy of repeat listens. Perhaps it’s a strange take, but this is the sort of album that I think would be a great choice to be played at gigs between band’s sets, as all metal fans will know the tracks but the new arrangement and stoner/doom vibe provides something relatively fresh and enjoyable.

Bob Balch (guitars) Fu Manchu
Amy Barrysmith (vocals) Year of the Cobra
Laura Pleasants (vocals) Kylesa
Peder Bergstrand (bass) Lowrider
Scott Reeder (bass) Kyuss
Esben Willems (drums) Monolord

1. War Ensemble (E. Willems, P. Bergstrand, A. Barrysmith, B. Balch)
2. The Antichrist (E. Willems, P. Bergstrand, A. Barrysmith, B. Balch)
3. Blood Red (E. Willems, P. Bergstrand, A. Barrysmith, B. Balch)
4. Dead Skin Mask (E. Willems, P. Bergstrand, A. Barrysmith, B. Balch)
5. South of Heaven (E. Willems, S. Reeder, L. Pleasants, B. Balch)

Added: January 3rd 2024
Reviewer: Chris Reid
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 640
Language: english

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