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Slope - Freak Dreams review

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Band: Slope
Album: Freak Dreams
Release date: February 2024

01. Talk Big
02. It's Tickin'
03. Chasing Highs
04. Nosedive
05. Hectic Life
06. It's Always You
07. True Blue
08. NBQ
09. Why Sad
10. Ain't Easy
11. Freak Dreams
12. Out Of The Blue Into The Black

Get ready to slide your way down a funky, groovy Slope within your wildest Freak Dreams.

Slope are a rather unconventional metal band with a unique fusion of genres, from classic hip-hop and funk rock, to alternative metal and hardcore punk. Despite having formed in Germany back in 2012, it wasn't until almost 10 years later, and following several EPs, that the band eventually unleashed their full-length debut, Street Heat in 2021, which turned out to be quite the remarkable effort.

Now, the band returns three years later to present their sophomore effort, Freak Dreams. So, how exactly does this latest effort stack up? I'll start by saying the album is relatively short in comparison to what most metal bands offer these days, running for only 35 minutes, but they pack in a fairly hefty 12 tracks. However, despite the album's many short songs, it certainly doesn't hold back on any punches, especially when it comes to the sheer volume of groove and levels of excitement it brings.

The band's extraordinary genre-blending, spanning old-school hip-hop and funk rock, is evident right from the off, with the opening track "Talk Big". This song begins in the most funky way possible with some outrageously groovy guitar work and a striking 70s tone, before listeners are introduced shortly after to some well performed hip-hop rapping in the style of classic acts such as Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C. (the only form of rap I personally enjoy). The tempo ratchets up into a more hardcore punk sound, before the funky rhythm and striking lead guitar make their way back in. This is certainly a unique and satisfying opener; from here on in, things continue in a similar structural format, with a few surprises thrown in along the way.

"It's Tickin'" follows, and this track takes a more aggressive route combining hardcore punk and alternative metal, introducing heavier riffs, groovier drum beats; additionally, the almost shouted rapping, especially during the chorus, is even more aggressive in style. With more emphasis on these particular elements, this track leans more along the lines of Rage Against The Machine in contrast to the opener.

Over the course of the album, there are several standout moments, starting with "Nosedive". This song has an uncannily similar style to Beastie Boys in the vocal department, and also has an unprecedented level of funky groove to get any metalhead or non-metalhead jigging about all over the place. Next, you have "True Blue", which has one of the catchiest choruses you're likely to hear this year, and a variety of guitar styles that are simply sensational. One of the album's main highlights, however, is actually the 2-minute "Hectic Life"; this track might be short, but it certainly leaves a lasting impression with its highly energetic performance, memorable riff hooks, and groovy rhythms. The final track "Out Of The Blue Into The Black" is the most aggressive and heaviest song on the album, from its hardcore punk shouts to equally intense rapping delivering hateful lyrics, along with rampaging drum beats accentuating heavy chugging riffs.

The genre fusions throughout the album's duration regularly strike a perfect balance; at times there's even sections which brings me back to the early German Krautrock band Can, reminding me of when they themselves experimented with hip-hop style music fused with elements of funk rock, particularly on their highly acclaimed 70s masterpiece Tango Mago. What's most striking of all (for me personally) is how much enjoyment I get listening to the rapping verses, as this is a vocal style I'm rarely taken by. Understandably, it's always a risky strategy to introduce rapping vocals to anything considered metal, but this is one of those rare cases where hip-hop and alternative metal collide in a way that actually works.

The fusion between hip-hop and metal (in general) isn't exactly a common combination, which I suppose you could say is understandable, as hip-hop isn't really to every metalhead's taste. But then neither is funk rock, and what's wrong with a bit of funk when jazz elements seem to be a common feature across the whole metal board. Through Freak Dreams, Slope have successfully managed to blend all these genres together in a surprisingly superb fashion; at the very least, it's a pretty darn fun, groovy listen.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Production: 7

Written on 05.02.2024 by Feel free to share your views.

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