The Slomatics have emerged from their triumphant down-tuned sludge anthems that appeared on the 12” split with Conan with something of a new sound having brought in Marty Harvey as their new drummer/singer. More stripped down than their previous releases A Hocht finds the band at their very rawest. Gritty matamp generated guitars froth at the accompanying very mid-to-late 80s drum sound. Now these may not be too everyone’s taste (more fool them) but lets face it Slomatics have been around for long enough to not pamper to “happening” sludge trends. Stripped, ripped and contorted these Irish “agro-sludge” dudes harvest the doubting questions one may have about the overall production of this album, by pushing them back down your throat, while at the same demanding that you just fucking sit down and let the songs do the talking.
A Hocht begins with the malevolent Inner Space atmospherics, reverb and delay create a cascading Floyd-esque quality which mounts, rears and overspills in gradual sonic increments until the first truly defined chord surfaces underneath a wave of cymbals…
Track 2 Flame On. The guitars direct attention to a militaristic Godflesh minimalism. There are not frills to this package. But it’s a weird gradual overwhelming awe one experiences when listening to the track, it creeps, stretches in a tortured hypnotic unrelenting march towards your final submission.
Track 3: Beyond Acid Canyon also begins with the same atmospheric ambience. Again the riff is stripped bare, driven by a skeleton crew of misshapen distorted anvil shaped guitar dives and holds. Hellhammer Apocalyptic Raids serves as some kind of reference. With their enhanced groove this really pushes the Slomatics into areas the band have not previously ventured. Sullen this drives the nail of oppressive depression into the canyons of your mind.
Track 4: Return to Kraken kicks off with some crazy phaser wah wah effect which makes the guitar almost indecipherable. When it does kick in Marty’s vocals bind the riff to the bones of To Megatherion. It’s like the band have time travelled back to when people were still excited about playing extreme music, before it became an easy term to use when describing all manner of rubbish. The riffs consequently rip through my spleen like a warm knife through butter.
Track 5: Tramontane trudges over the horizon like an unwieldy drug ridden automaton, it sweeps down, feasting on my bewilderment about how they create this music. Everything on this track kinda sounds out of tune, but that’s not a bad thing in this case because it gives it an added angst. The inclusion of some scary sci-fi keyboards from some alien B movie works wonders for this track and comes as a very pleasant surprise. Tortured distressed guitars add further chugging madness only to then revert to the core riff verse section.
Track 6: Blackwood finds the band being more introspective with some very beautiful clean guitar work and choral accompaniment. Ambience noise allows the listener to cherish the rest bite by allowing the track to wash over you.
Track 7: Theme from Remora brings the band back to their more perfect ground of making a determined effort to ensure an absolute distorted noise assault. Methodical in its repetition riffage gradually builds up and is over layered by ambient noise which eventually swallows the guitar.
Track 8: Outer Space once again finds the band at the beginning have come pretty much full circle.
And there we have it at around 36 mins long the Slomatics have managed to deliver another poisoned slice of wisdom to the sludge masses. Where this band differs from the vast majority of bands within the same genre is that they are master technicians at coveting riffs to maximum effect. But I should add that the album isn’t without its problems. Some may think there is an over reliance on ambient noise which doesn’t over the expanse of the A Hocht lead to the enhancement of songs. Some drum fills could have been slightly less busy, because in places they detract from and fall partially out of time with the guitars. The overall recording has also been compromised by being over compressed which makes everything sound a bit squeezed. And finally having three ambient orientated tracks at the end of the album with Blackwood, Theme of Remora and Outer Space smacks of running out of ideas in an Electric Wizard kinda way. But these are just small points of constructive criticism in the scheme of things because what Slomatics have managed to do with ‘A Hocht’ is cut themselves a niche that no one has occupied for the last 25 years.
The album therefore comes as a breath of fresh air, sailing as it does high above any of the bands who are currently more popular than the Slomatics. Therefore this album should correct the balance, and if promoters are reading this, in particular from the likes of Roadburn and Supersonic then you really should be looking no further than Slomatics for your future event. Yes there are bands that people will know better but when presented with the opportunity to watch the “agro-sludge” dudes unleash the monster that is the Slomatics, they will wonder why they waited so long to invite one of the greatest unsung sludge bands to have ever existed.
Crazy Good….Go BUY!!
Scribed by: Pete Giles