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Slift - Ilion review




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Band: Slift
Album: Ilion
Release date: January 2024


01. Ilion
02. Nimh
03. The Words That Have Never Been Heard
04. Confluence
05. Weavers' Weft
06. Uruk
07. The Story That Has Never Been Told
08. Enter The Loop

It's a pretty thin line between a heavy psych (and by extension a space rock) record and a stoner metal one. But the question shouldn't really be "Is Slift metal now?" but rather "Is Slift heavy enough to work in the same way a metal band would?".

Slift got added to our website courtesy of their 2020 Ummon record, one of the best and most well received heavy psych / space rock records by an up-and-coming band from recent memory. Without reinventing the wheel, Slift managed to make an-hour-plus long odyssey that was as extracting as it was exciting, and pretty much showing why the genre is so appealing in the first place. But heavy as it was, it was still a heavy psych / space rock record, not a stoner metal one. That's a distinction I'm not to keen on making, because you'll find plenty of instances of rock and metal music being almost inseparable, like how heavy does a prog rock or an alt rock record have to be to be considered prog metal or alt metal. Sometimes, we're not as keen on being very strict with that line, and I think that worked pretty well for us. I'd rather have a metal website with Slift on it than one without it (you know who I'm talking about).

There's a reason why a lot of the stuff from the early 70s that gets labeled proto-metal comes from the heavy psych camp, and there's a reason that even five decades later the DNA that this rock genre has with metal is shared to this extent. There's a reason why it's called "heavy psych" and not just "psychedelic rock" (even though we tag it as such on our website). But that more so the case with Ummon. In the meantime I got to see Slift perform at Roadburn, which isn't quite a metal festival, but I wouldn't be surprised if some metal got its hold on Slift through them touring and performing around metal bands. They performed a couple of sets there and while I regret missing the Ummon one, I did manage to catch one marketed as never-before-played material, and that was that surprised me by sounding heavier and more muscular than what I remembered from Ummon. I did try to figure out if what they played there was what ended up on Ilion, but even if NastyHero's investigation only showed some similarities but nothing one-on-one, it does make sense considering how Ilion is heavier and more muscular than Ummon.

I'm not sure what lead to Slift making their sound heavier, as it seems that's a direction they planned as far back as their 2022 performance that I saw, but the result is an album that gets even closer to that thin line I mentioned at the beginning of the review. I'm less interested in whether it's crossed or not, but I am interested in how well that works within their sound and how that makes Ilion a more interesting album. Akin to Ummon, it's still an-hour-plus long odyssey, and one where the space/psych rock is mostly used in the long form jammy kind that works with the elongated songs and that makes for something that's both immersive and that can make some pretty worthwhile background listening as well. There are plenty of moments where the repetition and the jammy nature works for that droning immersive effect that psychedelic music of its kind aims for, and a lot of the time that's also in mellower and more upbeat territories. But that's not all Ilion does.

As much as it's a record that works on the long term, it's also much denser, and that's something that's obvious with how explosive of an opening it has. It quickly leads to processed vocals and bass grooves and space rock keys and jammy guitars but for just a moment when it starts it's gunpower in musical form, where everything is dense and chaotic before untangling. That's just one moment, and scattered throughout the record are moments where the riffs get more muscular, the drumming more pummeling, the keys more grandiose, the vocals gruffer. "The Words That Have Never Been Heard" and "Weaver's Weft" definitely more sludge in their heaviest moments, while closing track "Enter The Loop" has its atmosphere take more from industrial.

And to answer my actually interesting question in the teaser. Slift don't need to be heavy to be interesting. Their space rock nature and the way that synths are integrated in their sound already made them more interesting than most psych bands. But their newfound heaviness on Ilion showcased their versatility and creativity enough to prove how much DNA they share with metal without feeling the need to be metal.






Written on 03.02.2024 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments

Comments: 3   Visited by: 70 users
04.02.2024 - 08:57
Rating: 8
koob

Nice review !
At least two of the songs were played with Etienne Jaumet at RB (and the subsequent tour together), wouldn't be surprised if it's the same for some other ones
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04.02.2024 - 11:03
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by koob on 04.02.2024 at 08:57

Nice review !
At least two of the songs were played with Etienne Jaumet at RB (and the subsequent tour together), wouldn't be surprised if it's the same for some other ones

Oh I also saw that one. Makes sense considering how much synths have a presence in this album.
----
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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08.02.2024 - 18:08
Auntie Sahar
Drone Empress
Fun psych doom, reminds me a bit of Ufomammut
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I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. “Come unto me” is a foolish word: for it is I that go.

~ II. VII
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