Tuesday 4 November 2014

The Sleer - S/T (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/08/2014
Label: Self Release

‘The Sleer’ DD track listing:

1). Intro/The Water (10:25)
2). Death is Life (09:31)
3). We Are The Sleer (07:07)
4). The Raven Never Sleeps (11:26)

The Band:

Timothy Smith | Bass, vocals
Robby Marshall | Guitars, vocals


Over a crackling bit of static, minor key violin swells gradually building a sense of tension and fear that finally give way to a crawling series of distorted arpeggios over minimalist drums. One look at the song lengths on this release, and you might assume you're in for redundant, fuzzed-out stoner doom explorations of the universe. The Sleer knock that misconception away the moment the layered death roars rip through the speakers, proclaiming that this is an outfit much more interested in dragging you through abyssal darkness, rather than taking you for a cosmic ride. Hailing from Denver, CO, The Sleer are a new doom outfit who take their cues from the darker, grimier, death-and-black-influenced school of slow-and-low heaviness. From the intense vocal assault, to the sporadic bursts of blastbeat madness and the unsettling chord progressions, they take cues from USBM's sense of grimy melody and a wide array of doom and sludge riff styles to produce a debut album that is truly impressive.

"Intro/Water" sets the tone for the album, moving effortlessly from gnarly, lumbering bent notes to black metal bursts and back. The Sleer covers a lot of ground without sounding like they're shoehorning in different styles. One particular point of interest is the song writing. Within the context of long, slow songs, bands can often string together a series of interesting but ultimately unrelated ideas that lack a satisfying resolution. Despite being a young band, The Sleer showcase their song writing chops throughout the release, with recurring themes in each song that bring the listener full circle over the course of each seven to eleven minute journey. 

The mixture of raspy vocals and harmonized cleans in "Death is Life" add a nice ethereal dimension, and a much-needed breather, amidst the pissed-off trudge of the rest of the track. The leads in this track, as well as the others, are the icing on the cake. The brief yet tasteful leads in the tracks on the release offer a satisfying counterpoint to the unsettling heaviness of the riffs. This release manages to incorporate catchy melodic phrasing alongside filthy riffs, balancing both elements masterfully.

The last half of the album is somehow even stronger than the first. "We are the Sleer" has a heavy, swinging groove and a tasty series of pentatonic, doomed-out riffs with the relentless dual vocal attack. "The Raven Never Sleeps" is massive and sprawling, as though YOB, Esoteric, and Ahab were trapped in burning tar while collaborating on the soundtrack to the end time. At this point, it is obvious that these three Coloradans are onto something powerful, evil, and unique.

You can buy the album for a mere $2, and that is a bargain for an album with this level of song writing and production. I, for one, am excited to see where The Sleer heads with future releases, as this one is an absolute crusher.

Words by: Ben Hutcherson

You can pick up a copy here

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