Monday 20 June 2016

SLUG 13 ~ SUPERBURNER ....... review

A while ago on these pages I touched on the English county of Surrey, in a piece on stoner/psych band Trevor's Head, concerning how much this county has contributed to Britain's rock music history. Well it seems that the, historically middle-class, London suburb has not finished with producing seriously good musicians quite yet.  Surrey based band Slug 13 started out as just plain ol' Slug ploughing an impressive furrow with a blend of grunge and noise inspired by the likes of Tad and the Jesus Lizard. Critical praise from such luminaries as Jello Biafra and, the now defunct music magazine, SOUNDS were soon forthcoming but failed to stop the band from folding after an impressive three year run. The story did not end there though and when guitarist/vocalist Nick and drummer Richard decided it was time to get back on the horse again they recruited bassist James into the fold. This new line up took the grunge and noise of their previous incarnation and added a little desert/stoner fuzziness into the groove and so with the addition of a couple of numerals Slug13 were born. In 2015 the band released their first studio EP "Need" and have just followed this up with their new outing "Superburner"

"Superburner" is a brooding, moody affair that sees the band expanding from their alt/grunge root into areas of psych, stoner and even a little doom, Heavily fuzzed and downtuned riffage is used as a base over which slightly low-key, but quite effective, vocals are laid creating a groove that owes a debt to both the quiet/loud/quiet aesthetics of Nirvana and the gritty fuzz'n'roll of some of the more darker sounding bands from the stoner/desert spectrum.
Title, and opening, track " Superburner" is a perfect example of these two polar opposites coming together in one place, its deliciously dark riff would not sound out of place on a desert rock compilation album but around that riff the band create a brooding dark atmospheric that would be just as comfortable in the alt/grunge arena. These two dynamics come together here like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and give Slug13 their own unique sound.
"Six Gill Murphy" continues in much the same vein and sees the guitarist laying down a sublime stuttering riff over a thundering bass and drum backdrop while singing an ode to a similarly named deep sea shark. Strange subject matter but when combined with an addictive rhythmic pulse and enhanced by a short but furiously tasteful guitar works.
Next track "Decades" is a little more metallic/ hardcore with the verses delivered in short sharp bursts reminding this listener in places of a less manic System of a Down. The vocals on the chorus do tend to get a little drowned out by the ferocity of the groove around them but that's a minor quibble for a track that kicks as hard as this one does.
"Gravity Cannibal" follows, kicking off with a liquid smooth bass intro before a darkly distorted and sustained guitar chord breaks the tranquillity and the three musicians fall into the main riff. The songs doom drenched lyrical theme is matched by an atmospheric and heavy backdrop of chainsaw riffage and tumultuous rhythm that is further enhanced by a jaw dropping WAH pedal soaked guitar solo.
"Rotating Mantis" combines a series of guitar effects and trickery with another stuttering stop/start riff, adding a touch of heavy funkiness into a song which lyrically describes the movements of one of nature's scarier looking creatures. The guitar trickery extends into the songs solo, the guitarists use of what sounds like a rotary pedal, dialed to maximum, fracturing the notes falling from his frets, creating a stuttered broken signal effect. The band then fall back into the main riff for the songs final quarter, slowly increasing the tempo before ending on a final sustained and deeply distorted chord.
"Tearing" revives a little of the bands original grunge/alt vibe with its shifting dynamics, not quite the quiet/loud/quiet musical dynamic mentioned earlier but a more subtle shift in mood and atmosphere that is gradual rather than glaringly obvious.
"Firedog" closes the EP in ballsy style. An insistant and ferocious guitar and bass riff furiously driven from beneath by truly impressive drumming forms a foundation over which minimal lyrics are growled/roared. Short, sharp and to the point there is nonetheless a lot packed into its 01:49. it's just a shame it's not a little longer.

If you thought the UK was falling behind the rest of the world in terms of good underground rock music then take a trip to Surrey and check out Slug13, and while your there have a look around there may be a whole scene down there in need of discovery.

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