Following a 5 year break after their debut release, Slabdragger have concocted a follow up that is worth the long wait. For the uninitiated, the band name gives away the style pursued by this UK based power trio; slow, heavy music that trudges at a measured pace. ‘Rise of the Dawncrusher’ comes off as a well rounded affair that makes use of the best elements of bluesy stoner metal, doom metal and sludge. The lines differentiating these styles are blurred on this record and the result is giant monolithic album that spans over an hour long, which manages to keep the listener tuned in without imparting a sense of fatigue.
The album is given a powerful start by the blues rock inspired riffs of ‘Mercenary Blues’. This 11 minute opener offers riff after riff that stoner metal fans would lap up insatiably. By bringing in wacky space soundscapes and an atmosphere of foreboding doom, the track serves as a solid entry point into this album. The hardcore – sludge metal tones of ‘Evacuate!’ follows suit. The riffs manage to create a sense of danger and urgency, which combined with the screamed vocal work goes well with the theme of the track.
This power trio has its bases covered as far as performances go. The songwriting provides every element with moments to shine. Slabdragger manage to nail every style under the broad spectrum of slow, extreme music. ‘Shrine of Debauchery’ sees the band head into the territory of doom / sludge metal and they deliver an absolutely crushing track that has a sense of uneasiness and impending doom, thanks to it’s claustrophobic atmosphere and sparse use of melody.
On paper it may seem like Slabdragger demand a lot from the listeners with their copious track lengths. That ceases to be an issue the moment the listener hears the grimy riffs of the band. The two longest tracks of the record ‘Dawncrusher Rising’ and ‘Implosion Rites’ (together, they make up more than 50% of the record’s total length) are testaments to Slabdragger’s ability to write long songs that are worth investing one’s time in. They achieve this by constantly interchanging between styles and unleashing riffs that manage to hook the listener almost effortlessly.
In a world where the attention span of the average human mind is ever shrinking, bands like Slabdragger are doing a solid job of making music that makes the listeners to want to invest in an album that is over an hour long. ‘Rise of the Dawncrusher’ is well worth the time it took to get here and is one of the better doom / sludge / stoner records that 2016 is likely to see.