Slomatics - Strontium Fields review
|Release date:||September 2023|
01. Wooden Satellites
02. I, Neanderthal
03. Time Capture
04. Like A Kind Of Minotaur
06. Zodiac Arts Lab
08. With Dark Futures
Slomatics's newest release deviates from their previous reliable formula, injecting calmer ambience and more operatic vocals. Unfortunately, the songwriting is hung out to dry as the front-loaded piece gradually devolves into uninspired and boring musicianship.
Slomatics are a trio from the United Kingdom that play psychedelic stoner doom. Formed in 2004, the band now present their seventh album, Strontium Fields. Besides a fuzzy guitar sound, the most prominent element of their sound is the operatic singing. To me, the mournful falsettos kind of sound like a mix of different inspirations: classic Ozzy Osbourne vocals, Johan Längqvist's performance on Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, and even some European power metal influence. Yet, while the emotional cries are perhaps their most emphatic performance to date, too much of a good thing can also grow tedious if there's little variation. More on that later.
On their previous albums like 2014's Estron or 2019's Canyons, they focused on the straightforward yet effective and enjoyable approach of lumbering, ominous doom riffs backed by the eerie cries of the vocalist. Now, on Strontium Fields, the band has opted for a more diverse choice, alternating between two distinct styles throughout the album. On the one hand, songs like "I, Neanderthal" show off super groovy, crunchy stoner riffs. On the other hand, tracks like "Time Capsule" indulge in atmospheric space rock ambience. While the calmer instances give the listener the pleasant sensation of floating through cosmic expanses, I definitely find the moments of heavier instrumentation on Strontium Fields far more enjoyable. Maybe it's a purely personal preference, but I believe that when the instruments are so muted, the long spells of the wailing vocalist quickly become tiresome. The heavier tracks such as "Like A Kind Of Minotaur" benefit from the stark contrast of crushingly intense fuzz and the spectral lamentations of the vocalist.
But then, something strange happens altogether. The second half of the album suddenly begins to sound very uninspired to me. "Voidians", "ARCS", and "With Dark Futures" all feature both tranquil ambience and menacing fuzz. However, the mournful vocal performance sounds increasingly lacklustre, as if the singer is now simply going through the motions, while the guitars resort to random bursts of droning instead of providing fully-fledged riffs. This impression might be a result of the repetitive playing having finally outstayed its welcome or the fact that the album is simply front-loaded with their best work. Whatever the underlying reason, I can't help but notice that the songwriting and performance take a major dip after track 4. The album loses its engaging hooks as the vocals become increasingly annoying and the guitar-work devolves into uneventful droning.
In conclusion, while Strontium Fields kicks off with a promising stoner vibe, the album ends up being a rather disappointing experience as the well of engaging songwriting slowly dries up.
||Written on 18.09.2023 by The sign of good music is the ability to both convey and trigger emotion.|
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