We at Desert Psychlist are always up for something that is a little off-kilter and left of field so when we were introduced to Canadian outfit Slowpoke it was a match made in heaven. Slowpoke , Ben Chapman-Smith (bass/vocals); Cameron Legge (guitar) and Adam Young (drums), are not what you would describe as your basic rock'n'roll band, they are a band who play all the right notes but not always in the order you might expect, it is a trait that makes their self-titled debut "Slowpoke" not just a great listen but an essential one.
To label what Slowpoke do is a difficult task, is it stoner, is it doom, is it sludge? Well the answer is yes it is all three questions but there also so much more going on here too. Take opening number "Stony Iommi" for instance, for a song that references Black Sabbath's "Lord of the Riff" Tony Iommi it does not carry even a vestige of Sabbath-ness in its sonic attack, in fact for the first couple of minutes of its life its sounds more like something from System Of A Down, both vocally and musically, than it does Sabbath, but that's still not the whole story as the following seven plus minutes of the song finds the band quite unexpectedly jumping into an instrumental heavy psych groove. Just as you are getting your head around what you have just heard up pops "Slumlord", a song with a strong QOTSA vibe its smooth clean vocals interspersed with demonic sludgy growls, if your not confused by now you will be when the groove devolves into a slowed down proto doom refrain with those sludgy growls finally taking precedence. It's all change again for "Sid The Cat" a constantly shifting kick-ass hard/stoner rock workout decorated in a mix of clean and throaty vocal tones. By now you are probably beginning to realise that Slowpoke are not a band with a definitive signature sound and this is confirmed by next track "Miami Camo" a schizophrenic mix of desert grooviness and sludge like bluster that signs out on a mixture of sampled soundbytes and weird SFX. Up next is "Windtalker" a song that blends playful pop rock melodies with guttural growls and bluesy guitar solos's over a chugging stoner(ish) groove while for "Sanctuary" Slowpoke sprinkle a little goth-like flavouring over their heavy rock and sludge while still managing to inject some bluesy doominess into the equation. Final track "Slowpoke" finds the band fully flexing their doom muscles but like everything else on this album nothing is a given and the doom Slowpoke present to us with here is far from straightforward and is spliced with elements of sludge, goth rock and whatever else they can find to throw in to the mix resulting in a groove that is most definitely doomic but might not quite be the doom you are expecting.
If you like your grooves slightly off-the wall and unpredictable then you won't go far wrong by giving Slowpoke's self-tiled debut a listen, they are a band whose music draws its inspirations from the blues, stoner rock, doom and sludge but never quite commits to, or fits into, any of those genres, an eclectic mix of styles melded and merged together to create a sound that is totally unique, unquestionably quirky and refreshingly exciting.
Check 'em out ....
© 2021 Frazer Jones