Slagg rocks. Hard. I could end the review right there and tell you to go out and buy this Wells County-based band’s inaugural full-length CD right now, but first let’s slog through the usual comparisons, mangled metaphors and done-to-death adjectives.
Like the best aggro-metal, Slagg’s musical elements combine to form a single, massive battering ram to the eardrum (well, two battering rams ... for those who can still hear out of both ears). This album was born to be cranked up, tuned to perfection by producer Tim Bushong. The songs vary from blizzards of nails to stomping Sabbath sludge but never fail to engage with memorable riffs, solid construction and a few surprises.
The punishing guitars that open “What’s On Your Mind” give way to an introspective vocal by singer/guitarist Josh Loucks, then all hell breaks loose again for awhile. A dizzying waltz rhythm arrives mid-song, punctuating a sophisticated arrangement that adds surprising depth to a genre typically content to just pound away. “Forced” features a Tool-esque time signature and erupts in just the right places, while “Submersed” contains the kind of caged angst that Trent Reznor hasn’t been able to conjure up in years. It’s a driving and extremely heavy tune, but somehow epic and tuneful at the same time.
Loucks and Clay Onweller lay down gut-punching, chugging guitars on “You Name It,” which also includes a syncopated, vaguely Rage Against the Machine-like vocal.
The album slips into homogeneity from time to time (it’s difficult to sustain so much intensity over 13 songs) but the riffs are always titanic, and the level of musicianship is top-notch, especially the rhythm section of bassist Trent “Bones” Hirschy and drummer Jared Weberg. The latter’s eye-popping kick drum work propels “Nickel & Dime,” while Hirschey shines on the ebbing and flowing “So Full.”
Slagg’s explosive capabilities are highlighted in the head-banging “Far From Empty.” I can picture a sea of bobbing heads and clanking piercings, all pumping their fists in unison to the song’s mammoth chorus.
Think Less, Feel More could prove a dangerous sonic steroid for some (think cinemaplex parking lot right after a midnight screening of The Road Warrior) so make sure to keep a punching bag of some sort handy to vent your newly inherited ecstasy of rage after listening. Or consider at least switching to decaf. Slagg’s Smash Alley Records debut is an angry, hungry and focused document of a band that has committed absolutely to their music. Go to www.slaggband.com or www.smashalleyrecords.com to get this record.
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