Ryan Parrish is best known for his hardcore thrash or punk drumming that propels two of West Virginia’s most ferocious bands in Bleach Everything and crossover supergroup Iron Reagan, not to mention a host of other heavy artists. He is however also lauded for his gentler, more experimental work with the likes of Years and the hardcore alternative sounds of Hopesfall.
Slow Burning Rage, his latest venture taps into elements from these other projects and takes them beyond the confines of genres. Despite writing and composing the album, as well as acting as multi-instrumentalist, handling drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and electronics, Parrish isn’t claiming this as a solo project. He’s assembled a huge array of very credible names to enable the creation of Slow Burning Rage from bands such as Windhand, Municipal Waste, Inter Arma and Darkest Hour.
The title can give you the wrong impression slightly as this is not some none heavier sludge but instead a progressive mix of post-rock, metal, free form jazz and punk sensibilities colliding into a mix of instrumental genre busting tracks that seek to explore the outer reaches of musical connection, creating something exciting and unique.
The downside of this approach is that it means Slow Burning Rage is not going to be for everyone. Much like Utopia’s Stalker, released on APF Records earlier this year, there are moments on this album that will be as off putting to some as others will be drawn to it.
The first indication of this is the explosion of saxophone on Agonal Gasp courtesy of Sean Cassidy in a honking, discordant jazz style of cascading notes and off kilter melody runs that is soon joined by frantic drumming, squalling, and jarring guitar sounds along with drone humming in a challenging musical smorgasbord than is not so much a patterned musical piece, but a churning maelstrom of sound that assaults the senses. The free nature of the composition reminded me of the on edge live compositions of The Mars Volta that is found on the oft impenetrable Scabdates album.
If you’re still with the album after the opening track The Slow Burn Of Madmartigan changes tact completely and is (for want of better words) a slow burning, moody piece of post-rock built around a deep bass groove and mellow pulse with Darkest Hour bandmate Paul Burnette ably assisting on several backing instruments. As seemingly linear as the previous track was scattergun, the unsettling human sounds of anguish are accented by the creaking organ and masked by the melodic creeping.
If you’re a fan of arthouse noise-rock then this is going to be an exciting release that you can mine repeatedly to explore, and uncover, the myriad of subtleties contained within…
This unsettling melody continues on El Too (Curse Of The Caves) as the pounding drums create a plodding march over a rich stoner vibe and lead accents that ping like sonar. Almost like a classic desert rock album, this could have formed a section on a Yawning Man album if Gary Arce had taken more of a bad acid trip, and instead of laidback surfer vibes produced something more sinister and unsettling.
Joined by Chris Barron, Graham Scala, and Jonathon Moore for more guitar textures on A.L.A.S. which is a dreamy space rock journey that shares a bond with the closing track …Crystal Nebula featuring harp from Marie Gist with the drifting, mellow sounds building and changing more like a film score than a piece of rock music.
Continuing with the same cast Scaphism (Two Boats) brings back the energy with the bass and drums vibing off each other as guitars add texture and dynamics in a tense affair that bristles with power before Transience forms a bridge to the huge percussion ensemble of Robley Ball, TJ Childress, Alex Copeland, Bram Crowe-Getty, Richard Gibson, Jason Hodges, Erik Josephson, Erik Larson, Jon Rice, Johnny Ward, Brandon Whittaker, Dave Witte, Ryan Wolfe making Dark Thunder sound like the power of an oncoming storm.
The album’s recording process was an equally complex affair handled by Ricky Olsen at the Ward with additional tracking by Tommy Gunn at Hammerhand and by Ryan Parrish himself at Roach Floor, it was then mixed by Jeff Kane and Parrish again at Roach Floor before finally being mastered by Marshall Wieczorek at MP Productions. This was probably necessary to balance the sheer number of bodies, musical instruments and arrangements involved in making Slow Burning Rage. The result is that from start to finish, and no matter the texture of the music, or the number of elements, the album sounds fantastic, and everything rings with clarity or contains the grimy tone that adds an edge of danger and seedy menace.
As I said at the start, Slow Burning Rage isn’t going to be for everyone’s tastes, the first track is the most avant-garde and challenging, the rest actually becomes a discourse in mood music that creates subconscious feelings from the sonic landscapes they create. Not content with re-treading any paths Parrish, along with his impressive army of friends and colleagues has set out to craft something exceptional and stand-alone that asks more of the listener than simply consigning their work to the background. If you’re a fan of arthouse noise-rock then this is going to be an exciting release that you can mine repeatedly to explore and uncover the myriad of subtleties contained within.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden