When is something good just as another example of its genre, without effort at innovation or experimentation? In other words, how do you distinguish between something that’s just lazy and an earnest work of art created out of love of the genre that might go a bit too far with leaving most of that genre’s tenets intact? Sail‘s Slumbersong raises these questions and then some, as it mercilessly worships stoner metal in all its fuzzy glory, never bothering itself with saying anything new or audacious about the genre. But you know what? It works. Slumbersong is a pleasing album, clearly crafted with love and a not irrelevant amount of talent for riffs, raspy vocals and groove.
The secret to that success might be the tinges of traditional heavy metal and rock n’ roll added to the mix. Imagine a groovier Baroness; the expressive riffs and melodious vocals are still very much present, as are the lilting leads and solos but someone has turned the Iron Maiden or Ozzy Osbourne influences a bit higher. “Righteous” is a good example of that; the track is motivated by a main riff which interplays with the vocals in a way instantly familiar to fans of what metal was doing in the 80’s.
The many solos and guitar bridges found on the track, impressively dislocated from their traditional places in the track’s structure, add excitement and variance to the stock formula, making something more of the track. In general, the guitar elements are the strongest feature of the album. They run the gamut between solid riffs and Mastodon-like leads, twinging their way through iteration upon iteration of main themes. Another high point we might point out in that regard is “The House”, one of the most powerful tracks on the album. It’s such because of the fuzzy guitar opening, the way it returns near the middle and what the guitars do in the middle, namely keeping the whole thing moving.
This is the point in the review where we place a big old “but” and talk about the negative aspects of the album. However, you pretty much already know what goes here: the album can get repetitive, leaning on the same formula (main riff, leads, solos, closing verse, etc.) over and over again instead of challenging itself into something more exciting. We could also point to the fact that the vocals lack dynamism, choosing to assault both the highs and lows of the album in the same fashion, generating an indistinguishable blur to the album.
But who cares about that (we say, after having enumerated the weaknesses) when the album just plain makes you rock out? Sure, you won’t be etching Slumbersong‘s name on the mighty towers of metal’s history but you will have a lot of fun with it. It’s an album that simply knows what it’s about and proceeds to make the best of it. It’s fuzz, execution and devotion to the style all make it endearing where other albums might have been boring, making it a fixture of any rotation looking to add some umf to its 2017 roster.
Slumbersong is out 3/10 via Hibernacula Records and can be pre-ordered here.