Slug Comparison – IIa

photo by Peter Wiholm

As the world and age wears down the ability to be truly surprised and equally finding many things to be   especially excited by, there is one thing which does get the juices flowing and that is something new from Slug Comparison. That kind of anticipation springs from being enthralled by its first single Bringer of Doom and subsequently hooked on a following self-titled debut album back in 2014 and has now been seriously rewarded with new EP IIa.

For those yet to discover the glory of Slug Comparison, it is the solo project of Doug Harrison, the vocalist/guitarist of the similarly tempting Canadian progressive rock outfit Fen, they not to be confused with the British black metallers of the same name. Harrison’s sound has already proved to be is an instinctively bold and imaginative embracing of various rock bred styles and textures while involving ears and thoughts with an intimacy which maybe can only emerge within a solo endeavour. It has been a quiet time on the Slug Comparison front recently with Harrison being afflicted by tendinitis last year which brought his work on new tracks to a temporary halt; being unable to play and compose as is his process on the guitar. He is back now though and returns with the first in a series of EPs, a trio of songs produced by Doug Fury with Harrison which simply ignites the senses and imagination like never before.

Drawing on the craft of Fen guitarist Sam Levin, bassist Mike Young from The Devin Townsend Band, and Randall Stoll of Congenital Fixation to bring his new tracks to life, the latter pair having helped out previously on that first album, Harrison instantly captivates attention with opener Let Some Light. The lure of acoustic guitar hungrily caresses ears initially, it’s tempting soon joined and enhanced by Harrison’s distinctive and ever compelling vocals and the darker hues of bass and beats. Melodies ignite across the infectious canter of the song, opening like suggestive blooms as voice shares emotion and reflection with harmonic and earnest dexterity. Heavier rock strains add to the evolving landscape of the song, essences of blues and classic rock colouring more progressive and folkish essences though it all joins and emerges as something with its own character and style. The track is simply delicious, infectious and emotive while involving body and thought with sublime ease and craft; escalating all attributes with its unpredictability.

The opener also reveals a new organic catchiness in Harrison’s music without defusing the imagination and established individuality of sound exposed within his debut album. That infectiousness is even more virulent in the following Exactly What to Do. If its predecessor is irresistible, the second track is alchemy for the spirit, the track instantly grabbing hips and instincts with its swinging gait and a rock ‘n’ roll hunger soon joined by an addiction inciting chorus. Spicy grooves and grungy rapacity adds to the contagious theatre of the song, every catchy twist and seductive turn a spark to involvement and lusty pleasure. At times there are hints at the likes of Porcupine Tree, Voyager, and Katatonia within the adventure but again no more than scents in its own rich roar.

Becoming completes the EP, a gentle stroll of a song with Harrison and acoustic guitar again an engaging hug welcoming ears into the intimacy and heart of the song. A smouldering persuasion compared to the forceful exploits of the first two tracks, it still needs little time to unite with thoughts and appetite as ears get lost in its melodic wiring and descriptive beauty.

Even with an instinctive connection with the sounds of Slug Comparison because of those earlier temptations, IIa still left a surprise spawned open mouth behind on its first listen and a greed for much more thereon in. Doug Harrison has hit yet another plateau with his own writing and music and indeed for us eclipsed anything from Fen to date too; time the world caught on we say.

The IIa EP is out now and available @ https://slugcomparison.bandcamp.com/album/iia as a name your own price download.

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Pete RingMaster 13/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Slug Comparison – Self Titled

Promo Shot

Though latecomers to the fascinating and melodic imagination of Canadian rock band Fen, coming in with the release of their fifth album Of Losing Interest two years ago, the band has been a regular contributor to our weekly soundtrack since. So it was with intrigue and keen appetite that we dived into the self-titled album from Slug Comparison. The band is the solo project of Fen vocalist/guitarist Doug Harrison, and the album a two year in the making embrace of melodic and emotive beauty. It is a release which further explores the majestic and inventive soundscapes which mark out his day job as one of the more compelling propositions around today, but equally ventures into new avenues of enterprise and creative intimacy. As Fen’s last album, it is a grower which from an initial impressive persuasion evolves into something which simply engulfs the imagination and emotions, though dare we say with even stronger, riveting potency. It is a stunning proposition and one of the major moments of the year.

The Vancouver musician has called on the likes of Mike Young from The Devin Townsend Band and Randall Stoll from Congenital Fixation to provide bass and drums respectively to tracks within the Mike Southworth produced album. Ultimately though it is a solo release blossomed from the ingenuity and craft of Harrison, and takes little time to enthral ears and thoughts. Opener Bringer of Doom instantly sparks attention as a guitar chips away at ears to intriguingly bring the song into view, a brewing ambience of emotive keys soon moving in with the instantly potent voice of Harrison. The song emerges and grows with every second and breath passed, bass and guitars adding shadowed and melodic colour to the thickening atmosphere of keys. There are no avoiding thoughts of Fen but also there are essences of Poets Of The Fall and Johnny Wore Black making suggestions as the track caresses and immerses the imagination, its reflective elegance over rugged scenery only increasing the magnetic presence of the song.

It is an impacting start swiftly matched by You’ve Seen Me, a track which from the off smoulders and resonates with radiant charm and resourcefulness, though it is the bewitching spread of variety to Harrison’s vocals which steals the Front Coverhonours. The song sways and soars with passion and sultry temptation, as well as a seemingly personal emotion which only accentuates its charm and autumn like warmth, before the hotter climes of Summer ’99 take over. Again there is an intimate air to the song which brings richer provocative hues to the melodic flames which ignite its already inventive canvas. Unpredictable yet controlled in its invention, the track simmers and boils from start to finish, switching and merging both heats for an increasingly tenacious encounter.

It has been a gripping and thrilling passage of songs to this point but everything kicks up a gear from hereon in. Short of Hell is next and as soon as the first pulsating beat of skin and electro resonance permeates bone and psyche, there is no escaping its extraordinary lure. Harrison is soon offering his darker tones to the bait, his voice as ever excelling in the clarity given. The track soon relaxes into a restrained stroll yet still there is a sinister and dark element to its presence which in turn incites the return of that opening temptation. As if it is exploring inner demons, the song pours out angst and menace throughout its sensational drama, setting a major pinnacle of the album which is right away emulated by the just as haunted and incendiary Evil Walks. The heaviest track on the release, and one again with an appetite to infest the senses with resonating intimidation, it expands its narrative and presence through contagious vocal and sonic hooks whilst the darker side of its temperament increases its snarl and imposing persistence. The track is glorious keeping the release at the highest peak, though it is too short for personal tastes for as soon as the teeth are really into its might it moves over for Long Live the Night.

     Featuring Tatyana Dobrowolski from Tatter’s and Ravens, the eight minute song is a folk bred anti-war flight of emotion and provocative textures, lyrically and melodically. It is a mesmeric piece which incites and transfixes with raw expression, Harrison’s songwriting explored with melodic poetry and sonic luminance for a song which you can argue would make far more impacting persuasion than any propaganda. Managing to make every second of its long length a vital and vivacious ingredient to its potent narrative, the song’s dramatic beauty is echoed In the Dark with Divinity. The song soothes the senses with its warm crystalline light and flirts with thoughts through elevated strikes of passion and rhythmic tempting, to again leave a lingering glow.

The final two songs on the album stretch the emotional and creative depths of the album again. Something to Bear veined by a classical guitar enticing, is a melodic croon with sinew carrying rhythms and throaty bass shadows all wrapped in a reflection of again mesmeric keys. With Harrison embracing the senses and thoughts through every aspect of the song, it is a scintillating provocative waltz. The final song Common Room also gently cradles ears and imagination, its elegant melodies and personal reflection a last enchanting kiss.

It was easy to expect big things from Slug Comparison, band and album because of Fen but even those hopes were left weak by the brilliance of Harrison’s solo album.

Slug Comparison is available now on iTunes, CDBaby, and at https://slugcomparison.bandcamp.com/

Doug Harrison is donating half of all proceeds raised by the Slug Comparison album to War Child (www.warchild.org)

http://www.slugcomparison.com

RingMaster 24/10/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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