Voracious, sludgy, uncompromising, and corrosive, all adjectives befitting the sound of US band Sloths and certainly their new EP Twenty Years. They present a thick slab of noise and intensity but also to their diversely flavoured assault and suffocation of the senses, the band explores raw melodic beauty within is just as startling in its emotive scenery. As evidenced by their new release they offer a punishingly heavy and exhausting creative offensive which at times challenges enjoyment, yet persistently it seduces with a predacious elegance to forge the most welcome physical and mental violation. It is a release which may not become your favourite release of this year but one which will spark a long term hunger for more.
Coming out of Portland, Oregon, the 2010 formed Sloths swiftly bred a sound which is as much post hardcore as it is sludge, as much noise rock and hardcore as it is any flavour you can imagine. Their sound is cauldron of noise and intensity aligned to intrusive invention, a recipe which has soaked a demo and a couple of EPs since forming, with Knives of last year a trigger to stronger attention upon the band. Now they unleash Twenty Years and it is easy to expect an even more potent response and reception to the EP’s severe ferocity. Recorded with Fester at Haywire Studios and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Baptists, Sleep, Oathbreaker, Tragedy), Twenty Years uncages a trio of songs connected musically and thematically in a demanding and intimidating exploration looking at “what it means to die young, a theme influenced by the recent death of a friend and the perspective gained by seeing the aftermath of such a tragedy.” The release is immersive smog of energy and sound, a suffocation of shadows and dark emotions veined with a melodic and impassioned light which ensures the release ignites imagination and emotions as powerfully as it does ears.
The EP opens with Elegy, an immediate blaze of aggression and abrasion driven by thunderous rolling rhythms from drummer Nate Sonenfeld and a sonic cacophony cast by guitarist Kyle Bates. It is a fierce examination of the senses driven by viciously raw vocals but tempered by the equally dark and imposing, but more composed assault of Alec van Staveren’s bass. The initial impact relaxes as acidic melodies begin exploring the tempest, their unpolished radiance a glimmer of respite within the still boiling climate of emotional turmoil. With grooves adding their heavy spice and imposing hooks a barbarous lure, the track is a dramatic and powerful start to the release.
The song flows into the following Void and it’s less forceful but no less intensive landscape. It is a caustic reflection musically and lyrically, sculpted by evocative melodies and those still thick set and energetic rhythms. The track is initially glazed in a reserved and ruggedly pensive climate but builds up its passion and anger to expel a range of carnivorous riffs and crippling rhythms, all the time working towards a hellacious crescendo and finale. All the time though melodies offer brief escapes and tempering to the fury uncaged and urged on by the voracity of the vocals.
Passing brings the release and emotional turbulence to a close, its initial almost blackened rage expelling torrents of angst and antagonism. The individual skills and energies of the band members converge on the senses with sonic and malicious flames throughout for a destructive satisfaction, yet there is an evolving breath and presence to the song which sees it eventually leaving on a more peaceful acceptance and grace.
Twenty Years is not an easy listen but it is a compelling and emotionally invigorating one which leaves ears and emotions more fulfilled and energised by its close whilst suggesting Sloths is a band due very close attention.
The Twenty Years EP is available through The Ghost is Clear Records, Don’t Live Like Me Records, and Illuminasity Records digitally now @ http://sloths.bandcamp.com/album/twenty-years with a Ltd Ed clear vinyl out from October 2014 and a cassette version via Death Culture Tapes soon after.
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