By: Aaron Pickford
Album Type: 12” Split
Date Released: 01/05/2013
Label: Head of Crom
SLABDRAGGER/MEADOWS Split 12 LP/DD track listing
A1). Alchemistress (10:10) - Slabdragger
A2). Burden (7:42) - Slabdragger
B1). Superscammell (3:44) - Meadows
B2). Baling Twine (2:00) - Meadows
B3). Howell of the Wind (6:38) - Meadows
B4). Loaded to the Gunwales (4:43) - Meadows
Sam Thredder | Guitar, vocals
Yusuf Tary | Bass, vocals
Nicolas Soteri | Drums
George Newnham | Bass, vocals
Charlie Kilshaw | Guitar, vocals
Chris Moore | Guitar, vocals
Jack Newnham | Drums, vocals
To say I was looking forward to this release would be an understatement to say the very least. Slabdragger produced one of the finest debut albums of recent years in 2011 and following on from that, alongside much touted band, Meadows, Head of Crom have brought two bands together and by doing so they have produced one of the finest releases of the year so far. So, what is all the fuss about? In my pursuit to be the next greatest guitar player in my late teens, early twenties it was my wish to have the sickest and ugliest guitar sound on Tyneside (that's Whitley Bay, North East England) to be precise. I was checking out the local guitar shops and asked the dude serving, what was the best distortion pedal (must have been late 90's). He then produces a DOD death metal pedal, to me it sounded absolutely amazing, so I promptly bought it, £90 later I get it home. Instead of the usual level, low, mid, high tones on the pedal, instead this pedal had R.I.P, GUTS, PAIN and SCREAM.
Well you can imagine my delight at this, and I could basically sum up the Slabdragger side of the split, by saying that it is sound incorporates all of those things, gut spewing filthy painful screams of Doom. Slabdragger have produced a monumental slab of doom encrusted heaviness which just reeks of putrefaction and with that in mind, I felt that I was listening to the sound of ‘Heartwork‘ era Carcass in terms of guitar tone. Hell it could be Bill Steer and Michael Amott playing on this record, such is the ferocity of these two new offerings by Slabdragger.
Alcehmistress is a ten minute tyrannous bile inducing slice of oppressive doom, which is spectacularly abrasive and brutal. Appearing to be influenced by early and late Cathedral, with that Ethereal Mirror roughness to the guitar sound, coupled with the latter day psychedelia of the vocals. They almost struggle to be heard over the seismic and colossal riffs that are on display, coming across like Warhorse from their legendary 2001 record As Heaven Turns to Ash. Slabdragger display some of the grooviest, most memorable doom riffs ever to crawl forth from the furthest reaches of the underworld. Spliced with intervals of wah at times, Slabdragger have taken their original sound and added more crunch to the guitar, more fuzz to the bass and with Nicolas Satori on drums, he vigorously pounds his kit into dust. Alchemistress is one truly monumental track and left me awestruck in wonderment at how outrageously awesome this track truly is and this is only the first of their double header.
Burden is set up with the shrill of feedback from the previous track and having picked your jaw from the floor, having been bitch slapped by the Alcehmistress. Slabdragger turn the thumbscrew once more, with another stupefying dish of doom. The guitars are equally colossal, yet somehow more sludgey than the previous track, exemplified by the slow and labouring Pachyderm pace of the track, it just sounds huge, with the buzzing din of the guitars and bass resonating like the sound of Leatherface's chainsaw, searching for its prey. There is a double whammy vocal approach to Burden with Sam and Yusuf spitting fury from the power of the written word. They appear vehement and pissed off on the track and yet there is also subtlety present too, mixing up the anger with emotion, with a more clean approach to the vocals too. Again Satori is equal to the fury of the guitars, bass and vocals, his performance reminding me of Greg Rogers on the first Goatsnake record.
The surprise of the track is the last third when Slabdragger take on a turn of pace, harking back to a more hardcore sound, including a great solo break and yet it continues to have that crushing doom sound. Slabdragger left me feeling battered, beaten and broken boned. Overall their peers need to take note, because on this performance Slabdragger are a force to be reckoned with. What's more if these songs sound half as good on stage as they do on this record, then I wish their peers good luck, because based on this performance Slabdragger are going to take some beating.
Meadows who incidentally were earmarked as one's to watch in our recent South East Sludge feature are a band that seems to be on the cusp of great things. The four tracks on the flip side of this wax are an entirely different proposition, and their barrage of counterpunches to Slabdragger are four doses of filthy bilious crust. Superscammel is raw and a rather unpleasant superfast ass kicking, with awesomely powerful and bombastic riffs, reminding me of the anger and fury of early and much missed Corby sludgers Raging Speedhorn. Meadows' agenda is one of destruction and carnage, unadulterated and unrelenting riff abuse, coupled with the raw and aggressive battery of the drums. Around the 1:00 mark, Meadows bring the sludge with slow crippling riffs, simple yet, brilliantly caustic, not to mention the demented vocal performance. Baling Twine is equally brutal with a fast paced flurry of scything riffs and abuse from what appears to be the whole band, spitting venom and fury. 2mins of searing, contemptuous hate
At 6:38, Howell of the Wind is the longest track Meadows offer on this split and this is where they explore the full range of their sound and influences, incorporating equal doses of crust, sludge, stoner and doom throughout. Indeed, this track specifically highlights what an exciting proposition this band are and can be over the course of the next few years. Meadows have depth to their sound and dare I say, maturity, these guys are more than a one trick pony and Howell of the Wind is exemplary. The old saying, save the best till last, couldn't be more appropriate for the final track Loaded to the Gunwales, which is a just a monstrosity of heaviness, think Mastodon at their heaviest and cross that with Yob and you're getting close. Man, I am writing this off the cuff and I am at pains to describe how amazing this track really is, too say that it is some of the heaviest shit you'll hear all year is an understatement. The track is like a slow wrecking ball of destruction that just about smashes you into dust. Absolutely brilliant.
Walk over broken glass, hot coals, do whatever you need to do (legal of course). Make sure you buy this record. You won't be disappointed. Don't delay because this bad boy it is limited to 300 copies only!! This is truly an essential purchase.
This record is available here