Wednesday 21 May 2014

Floor - Oblation (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 25/4/2014
Label : Season of Mist

Oblation track listing :

1. Oblation 03:08
2. Rocinante 03:20
3. Trick Scene 02:26
4. Find Away 03:11
5. The Key 00:47
6. New Man 03:19
7. Sister Sophia 03:33
8. The Quill 01:52
9. Love Comes Crushing 04:07
10. War Party 02:56
11. Homegoings and Transitions 03:02
12. Sign of Aeth 07:53
13. Raised to a Star 02:14
14. Forever Still 03:00

Bio :

FLOOR are back. The trio formed in 1992 achieved legendary status with only one full-length, their self-titled debut album "Floor" (2002) and despite splitting two years later. Their first line-up consisted of guitarist and vocalist Steve Brooks, Anthony Vialon on guitar and bass, and drummer Betty Monteavaro. The latter was replaced by Jeff Sousa in 1993, while Brooks and Vialon dropped the bass in favour of two low-tuned guitars. This line-up released several cult vinyl 7" EPs until a first break-up in 1996. The guitarists returned with Henry Wilson on drums for one show in 1997. Following hard on the heels of KYUSS, FLOOR are brothers in spirit to the desert rock feeling of shimmering heat, the pound and stomp of heavy engines, and a burning taste of diesel in the air.

After breaking up again, Steve Brooks moved on and formed TORCHE with massive success. Yet the guitarist and singer still agreed to a reunion tour in 2010 to celebrate the release of "Below & Beyond", which encompassed the trio’s complete material until that point in an 8-CD/10-LP box set. Heavily enjoying the experience and further fuelled by the exponentially grown following during their hiatus, FLOOR decided to record a new album. Now "Oblation" picks up where "Floor" left off more than ten years ago. Adding a dose of doom and a dash of drone, the new album crushes with a powerful production. CONVERGE guitarist Kurt Ballou mixed the album at GodCity Studios (TORCHE, KVELERTAK, HIGH ON FIRE) and the mastering was done by Alan Douches (BARONESS, BLACK TUSK, MOTÖRHEAD). Lean back, crank up and sacrifice to the gods of stoner rock with this mighty "Oblation

The Band :

Anthony Vialon | Guitar
Henry Wilson | Drums
Steve Brooks | Vocals, guitar

Review :  

The slow, audacious rumble of devilishly distorted down-tuned guitars resembling the roar of distant thunder open up this landmark album, with nothing but devastation on their minds. Then the crackling skyline rolls closer to the forefront of this vast, musical landscape, ensnaring the listener within it as enchanting vocals weave in and out of the bolts that flicker from dark, stormy clouds.

Floor are back with their latest full length release in their meandering history which began way back in 1992. More good friends jamming than anything too fun-draining and serious, Oblation marks a powerful return.

With Henry Wilson, who joined in 1997, alongside original members Anthony Vialon and Steve Brooks, occupying the drum stool, they have mastered the delicate balance of disgracefully muddy low end riffs with melodic vocal hooks that bare more in common with pop than anything else: as heavy as it is catchy, it truly is a fine album. 

After its tumultuous title track, Rocinante gives the bpm a good kick up the arse with a riff reminiscent of early Mastodon, exploding into different directions, gargling and churning like the pits of hell. It dictates the song while the vocals seem sparsely used, but well used nonetheless. A monstrously heavy stomp at the end resembles, not the thunder of the opening track, but enormous explosions that could bring buildings down.

Trick Scene boasts a really low down and dirty riff, complete with trademark 'bomb' notes and the rattling of an amp struggling to deal with the noise Brooks and Vialon’s fingers mercilessly force it to make – much to the delight of the listener. Again reminiscent of very early, very chaotic Mastodon with added hints of Electric Wizard and perhaps a dash of Kyuss, its warm, melodic qualities are omnipresent once more. Indeed, it is a feature that encompasses the entire record.

That said however, for all its discerning qualities, for this is an album racking up plaudits like there’s no tomorrow, this is still a record that could be accused of sticking to only a few formulas. But, although the underlying similarity between a fair few of the shorter tracks on offer here could make it difficult to sit through the album in its entirety for some, these are undoubtedly strong, effective songs. For those unable to indulge this record’s 45 minutes of playing time, this is an album you can pluck away at with several listens and in that context it is highly rewarding.

Elsewhere, Find Away almost takes on a grunge fashioned vocal style, while the same churning guitars keep your ears pricked and The Quill contains yet more heavy grinding riffs and plenty of noise from distressed feedback adding to the messy vibrancy of it. 

Love Comes Crushing offers slow pace melancholy with a hint of Chris Cornell crackling in Steve Brook's voice at points in a song that epitomizes everything that we love about the 'tune low, play slow' philosophy of doom rock.

Homegoings and Transitions adds the spice of variety to the mix, with a female vocal of Melissa Friedman morphing the band’s tonality. Backed by rung out chords knee deep in tremolo, it bares pleasing similarities to the likes of Baroness' slower, more relaxed and beautiful compositions such as Steel That Sleeps The Eye and Cocanium.

In Oblation, they have a solid, impressive release. The plaudits weren’t half right.

Words by : Phil Weller

You can get it here