Holy Led Zep Batman!!! Slow Season are an utterly unknown band from across the water Stateside but have more than enough chops to give Rival Sons a serious run for their money in their bid to snap at the heels of Page and Co.
Slow Season possess that raw, hard rock sound that is firmly rooted in the blues that Rival Sons wholly embrace, however Slow Season do it with far less gloss, far less posturing and, as a result, far more grit and authenticity. Opening track “Heavy” is just that, a vibrant blast of hard guitar rock that echoes (extremely heavily) Led Zep’s “The Wanton Song” and “Immigrant Song” with an urgent riff and a powerful vocal showing from Daniel Rice. If, however, you were thinking of settling down to a ride through numerous blues rock clichés, next track, “Ernest Becker’s 32nd Schizophrenic Nightmare” is a lilting, bluesy acoustic tune with an irresistible vocal melody and backed up by some very tasteful pedal steel guitar tones. Bang, within the first two tracks Slow Season have hit us with both ends of their musical spectrum. It’s another shock then when third track “Dayglo Sunrise” kicks in with a sparse funky beat, an elastic bass line and some sparse harmonica and guitar textures before slamming into a fat, slide driven chorus that builds into a layered epic to the conclusion.
By this point it’s impossible not to be hooked to see what the band will offer up next…big fat riffs, acoustic blues, funk rock? “Evil Words” is actually a mish mash of fuzzy psychedelic pop, lazy West Coast jangle and dreamy textures and wouldn’t have sounded out of place on any of Led Zeppelin’s earlier albums. Likewise “Thunder Song” is a brief sitar driven acoustic instrumental that will inevitably draw comparisons to “Black Mountain Side” despite sounding nothing like it and only by virtue of the band’s obvious Zeppisms. It is, however, a pleasant interlude while one waits to see what the next offering is they pull from their bag of tricks.
“Deep Forest” picks up where the previous track leaves off as a lazy, hazy psychedelic guitar piece before the band find their rock and roll hearts half way through and barrel headlong into a fat, riff driven groove that is, once again, pure Led Zep with a fine vocal performance from Rice who comes uncannily close to Robert Plant’s primitive howl. Slow Season come over all emotional on “No More Running”…the big ballad complete with big chorus and big guitar solo. In some way on this track the band step out of Zep’s shadow and huddle for safety under a little Pink Floyd as this has more in common with some of Floyd’s more emotive and heartfelt moments. Regardless of influence this is a towering beast of a track and the “peace be gone” refrain lingers for a long time after the last notes of the album have died away.
So the question is, what would Zep do at this point? Break out the mandolins, obviously so that’s exactly what Slow Season do on the haunting, folky “Ruah”. This track could very easily have claimed the comfiest armchair and taken over the TV remote on Led Zeppelin’s third album as acoustic guitar and mandolin back up some tastefully layered vocals and offer a peaceful respite from some of the band’s more rockist tendencies. “Coco A Gogo” digs deep into the rock and roll of the 1950s that was so beloved of Jimmy Page to create a jumping, energetic blast of riffing energy that features a typically rockabilly style lead break from guitarist David Kent.
As the title suggests “No Bridge Rag” is a jaunty, eastern flavoured romp driven by acoustics and slide guitar that, as you may by now have guessed, draws heavily from Led Zep but also tips a nod of the hat to Hawkwind’s “Hurry On Sundown”. Oddly enough, it doesn’t actually feature a bridge!!! So, how do you conclude an album that runs the gamut from Led Zep’s energetic, bluesy hard rock to Led Zep’s gentle acoustic refrains? Simple, you rewrite the riff to “How Many More Times” and get your drummer to kick the shit out of a rolling heavy beat…and that’s exactly what Slow Season do on album closer “Bars And Bars” to bring proceedings to a close in fine style…complete with psychedelic freak out in the mid section.
Yes, this album is highly derivative of Led Zeppelin…almost to the point of being a tribute album. The fact is, however, Led Zeppelin aren’t doing this anymore and have no intention of doing this again, and it’s impossible to argue with an album of absolutely great songs played with real passion topped off with an authentic, raw and suitably vintage production. Slow Season play with an obvious relish and have the chops and song writing skills to overcome the constant Zep comparisons. Plus it’s refreshing to hear an album that retains a band’s identity whilst travelling through so many musical styles and moods. It’s a skill most bands overlook these days and not many hard rock bands have produced albums packed with such a level of variety since…erm…Led Zeppelin!!!
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall