The Slow Decay
posted on 11/2004 By:
As a reviewer, I get a lot of cds handed to me. It’s great, I love it and have no complaints. However, some of these albums get tossed the moment I’m finished reviewing them, and many more sit on a shelf, where they may or may not be played again. On the other hand, it’s cool to get an album from a band you like and even cooler to get a good album from a new band you didn’t know about. But the best of all is when you get a good album from a band you didn’t know, who also has a decent sized back catalog. Man, that’s like Christmas, except of course that I have to buy the rest of the presents. Kansas’ Jumbo’s Killcrane is one of those bands. The Slow Decay is the fourth album from the trio of sludge wizards, and leaves me wondering how in the hell I haven’t heard of these guys before.
The album opens with a two minute introduction track, creatively titled “Intro”, that has a shimmering “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” feeling. That doesn’t last long, as the track is overtaken by a blanket of murk that remains for the remainder of the album. The first proper song is also the title track and the best song on the album. Listening to this track the first time, I was curious how the band would feel about me comparing them to Nirvana, as I was immediately struck by how much this sounds like a metal companion to the seminal album Bleach. It obviously doesn’t have the same punkish sound, and readers not intimately familiar with Bleach should not be put off by the Nirvana comparison (I repeat–there are no later Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” moments). It turns out that the band has no complaints at all with this comparison, as the label describes this album as a mixture of Nirvana’s Bleach and Eyehategod. That sounds right to me, although I also hear a Melvins influence, and maybe even a small bit of early Soundgarden.
To borrow from Bon Scott: If you want sludge, you got it. The Slow Decay is packed with grimy distorted riffs that rapidly alternate between slow and doomish and aggressive mid-tempo crunch. The drumming is one of the strong points on the album. It has a loose, improvised feel that uses alternating patterns and interesting fills, rather than predictable snare/bass/cymbal combinations. The drumming, combined with the frequent tempo changes, gives the songs an agile, muscular feel that gives you the idea these guys go from zero to sixty to zero in a split second, and still never get out of third gear. The motor oil and acid dripping, rabid growling bark is challenging but a perfect match for the songs. The vocals are down in the mix, but the sound suits the style. The songs are typically about eight minutes long and follow a consistent formula, so it is possible that some listeners will feel that the album bogs down a little. No complaints from me though, the parade of slow, fuzzy riffs and pummeling gallop goes on from one track to the next, and before I know it, the album has ended.
You can check out an mp3 for “Die, Stabbed” on the band’s website. I don’t find it to be one of the stand out tracks, but it’s a good song and definitely gives you a flavor for the band’s style. The Slow Decay was a pleasant find for me, and I’ll be working my way backwards through the band’s discography. Fans of sludge will be well pleased.
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