Canyons is, fundamentally, a more-than-exceptional embodiment of sludge metal’s gritty, satisfyingly slow roots. Slomatics offer up the ability to remind us all that we should sit back, relax, and take a moment to truly enjoy our time with music.
To be constantly active in the heavy music scene means to be constantly surrounded by a lot of up-tempo, mind-jumbling sounds. Sometimes, though, slowing down a bit and getting lost in a culmination of deep bass slides and ominous vocals is exactly what the metal doctor ordered. The album prescribed: Slomatics‘s Canyons. These sludgy, doom-wielding Belfast natives give us some good stuff to take the edge off in this gut-rumbling heavy-hitter.
Formed in 2004, Slomatics are no strangers to the world of sludgy doom. In 2018, the trio collaborated with Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard for the release of Totems, which is an intricate masterpiece in and of itself. They also work under Black Bow Records, the label founded by Conan‘s Jon Davis, which (as if there was any confusion before) confirms their placement in being a sludge/doom metal powerhouse. The little blurb on their Bandcamp page states Slomatics ‘aim to reduce riffs to a primal state of heaviness, to produce music which whilst imploding under it’s own weight, creates a a joyous and euphoric state of well-being‘, and I whole-heartedly agree in saying that with Canyons, they accomplished just that.
Canyons opens with a haunting, yet soothing track entitled “Gear of Despair”, offering a chance to kick our feet up and take a couple deep breaths as we prepare for the oncoming journey. As the rhythm picks up, guitarists Chris Couzens and Dave Majury take full charge to ease stubborn thoughts and put us into the head space necessary to fully immerse ourselves in an abyss of riff-filled, gooey depths. Then, and only then do Marty Harvey’s echoing vocals slowly hypnotize the mind, so that the simmering pot of sludge that is Canyons can wash over us.
The trip of mindless musings continues with “Cosmic Guilt”, as Harvey’s vocals come in gruff and gritty. This sultry introduction immediately reminded me of the powerful harmonies from back in heavy metal’s early years, combined with a poignant twist via hard-hitting bass riffs to settle us down. As the rhythm continues, we’re brought back up again with the upbeat and steady “Seven Echoes”.
Next up, and my personal favorite off the album, is “Telemachus, My Son”. Listening to this is what solidified my stance on Slomatics as a force to be reckoned with. This track builds up slowly, much like the others, but the combination of the building melody and the fuzzy back-beat of the drums created an exciting rush of bliss within me of which previous tracks had only just missed the boiling point. As the bass carries us onward, we get hit right in the gut with a breakdown that is among the most satisfying and well-placed I’ve heard in a long time.
The album closes out with what I’d like to call ‘two songs in one’, as “Organic Caverns II” starts off peacefully, almost allowing the mind to attentively doze off and get lost in the melody. As we dance with the drum, we are abruptly taken in another direction, as a sudden shift and key change turn the mood around. Suddenly, our sci-fi adventure becomes a race to the finish line, with echoes of all we have felt so far beginning to fade into the background. Finally, we are brought back into the real world with the most perfect alien-like reverberation of a buzzing synth to properly finish off the album.
As someone with an affinity for doom-esque music, I’ll admit that I went into this album with some high standards. However, Slomatics did not disappoint by any means. They have been active for fifteen years, and I strongly feel like they deserve a steady place at the top. It seems very clear that their seasoned years in the scene have taken their overall sound to new heights on Canyons, both creatively and technically. I mean it with a heart full of fervor when I say that I cannot wait to see what comes next, because honestly, I believe it will only continue to go up from here.