What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster?
Well yes actually it is. It’s a Sleestak and it’s lumbering towards us with a curious look in it’s large, bulbous, unblinking eyes, it is holding out something in it’s pincer like hands…. it’s a CD; a CD of epic proportion spanning nearly 60 minutes of psychotropic music.
The creature watches emotionless as you place it in the stereo and hit play. It hisses as a glowing, billowing, mist appears and you are catapulted through a worm hole in Time and Space. Welcome readers, to The Fall of Altrusia…
Last year (2010) the psychedelic doom/stoner rock group Sleestak released the solid and intriguing Skylon Express album; crafted over the four years that passed after their inception in 2003 the combined EPs (Library Of Skulls and Skylon Express) hinted at a band that had much potential.
Loosely thrown together the debut album had some inspired moments of progressive space rock and head down, driving doom music strung together with lengthy and melodic instrumental passages. Whilst that album wasn’t perfect, in part due to the inconsistencies because it had been written as two separate EPs and assembled as a working concept rather than as a chronological document, it promised much and I hinted at the time that the band had the ‘chops to take their art much further’ with the forthcoming ‘Fall Of Altrusia’.
Well now it’s here and a chance to see if the years since 2007 have seen the band make the same kind of creative leaps as they did in their formative years and I am pleased to say that fans of the past work will absolutely not be disappointed.
First off they have immersed themselves wholly and utterly in their Land Of The Lost concept – consider the bonkers genius or at the very least the drugs that would influence you to create a concept album surrounding the Sleestak…
The Fail of Altrusia is a reference to the ancestors of the Sleestak, the Altrusians; their civilization fell, and will rise again in a continuous time-loop approximately 1,000 years earlier and later – they devolved through their lack of compassion or ability to control their anger and hate (depending on which theory you subscribe to).
Are you still strapped in? To be honest, I could spend ages talking over the concept alone, but that’s not what I am here to do – if you don’t know the story Google Land of the Lost and ignore the shit film remake with Will Farrell from a couple of years ago.
Down to the music.
Honestly this is epic. That word can be bandied about a lot when talking about bands writing progressive, concept music, but I’m not casually throwing this in as a lightweight descriptor. This is EPIC, Lord Of The Rings 2 disc extended edition epic and it is wonderful for the overblown indulgence they have dedicated to it’s creation. Broken into 7 tracks or chapters detailing the Altusian fall this is a huge flexing of the band’s song writing abilities, massive walls of sludge and doom sit side by side with melodic instrumental passages of folk laced experimentation, capped off by the mournful Pakuni Shaman Chant Of The Altrusian Moth.
Where to begin?
The album starts with a swirling guitar that does little to give away the huge crushing power of ‘In The Beginning’ and the guttural roar of Matt Schmitz that is unleashed, but this no one trick pony as the track mutates into spacey psychedelia and back again.
Next up ‘Exiled From The City’ is different again with sung vocals, heavy on effects but no less captivating. Honestly at times there is so much going on that you cannot help but be impressed as the album throws up more and more shades of light and grey the more you listen to it.
The depth that they have gone to is jaw dropping – The Marshall Prophecy shows off the chemistry between the musicians as the jams that were in their infancy on the previous release are realised here to full effect and the friction between the earlier and later material is naturally gone. The whole thing slides in a fluid motion, shifting and complimenting each part as well as you would imagine.
Once again give a full work out to their myriad of influences – Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Clutch, Monster Magnet, Isis, Colour Haze, The Melvins and even Godflesh as they breathe life into their story and it lends itself to the visual imagination; a plodding, menacing army of Sleestak or the sorrowful lament of a doomed civilisation.
For a band who had to eventually combine their first two EPs for ‘budget constraints’ the whole thing sounds incredible;, the industrial style effects, the mountainous riffs, the crashing drums and rumbling bass sit well beside the droning synths and almost Ray Manzarek esque organ. It’s easy to fall in love with a piece of art when it is so lovingly presented and The Fall Of Altrusia is as nearly as perfect as a self released album can be – right down to the cool Sleestak with a third eye sticker you get with it. My whole problem is where to put it that can show it off really.
Anything negative to say?
Nope. I’m about to embark on the TV series because of this band, I just wish I got hold of it before seeing that damn Will Farrell movie…
Label: Self Released
Scribed by:Mark Hunt-Bryden