Snowblood are, alas, no more and this, their untitled third LP, is their epitaph. One of the UK’s most sorely underrated bands, the Snowblood live experience could be akin to a force of nature, and previous records never quite seemed to capture that. THIS recording, however, is as true a representation of their sound as could hope to be heard, and as an epitaph, is QUITE the imposing monolith. Immaculately packaged in a fold-out card sleeve replete with striking, alchemically-influenced art, the four tracks that make up this behemoth are left untitled, with only the lyrics included on the fold-out booklet. No credits, no information, nothing. Snowblood have chosen to let their words and music sound the final trumpet.
Fading into earshot with a sound like the distant singing of telegraph wires, the opening track uncoils itself over almost 20 minutes, delayed guitars and layered vocals over melodic bass and subdued yet busy drums exploding into urgent, off-kilter guitars and throat-shredding vocals, briefly receding back into a tense Pere Ubu-esque guitar, drum and synth shuffle before crushing us with lumbering doom-metal riffage. This elephantine chording is momentarily broken by a free-for-all skree-fest before the vocals return in a harsher form, throatily declaiming over descending, monumental chords crackling with distortion and making full use of the two-guitar set-up, eventually swinging into a lumbering rhythm that culminates in a droning, shimmering fade…..and thats all in the first track!!
The EPIC second track moves from subdued guitar and vocals, backed by the sound of strings – cello and violin perhaps – into HUGE discordant yet triumphant guitars and culminating in heavily delayed guitars and organ. The scope of this sound is VAST.
Track three is the shortest track here, at 10 minutes, but passes in the blink of an eye with its mature and full-sounding post-rock/post-hardcore chiming lilt and gorgeously melodic bass tones.
But its on track four that Snowblood really have at us with all guns blazing. Alternating between Belong/MBV sounding synth/drone/delay passages with an almost audio collage feel and a definite Andy Summers sound to the guitars, edgy His Hero Is Gone-style blasting hardcore and crushing Iron Monkey-style doooooom with nasty, scything vocals, Snowblood show us the full extent of their palette in a gripping and dazzling display of power and chops. Once again, an epic that has the feel of a much shorter song – rather than overstay its welcome, you find yourself craving more once the droning feedback and John Carpenter-esque synths that close the track fade into silence.
As I said earlier, Snowblood were very much unappreciated during their existence, much like Canvas – another UK band with whom Snowblood share stylistic similarities and experimental tendencies – but I personally loved both bands dearly, as I love ANY band willing to push the boundaries of their ‘scene’ and sound. Snowblood though, it MUST be said, were one of THE best of the boundless bands, and their demise is VERY much OUR loss. They are no more, and we are all the poorer for it……but, MAN, what a way to go!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson