Slidhr // Deluge
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — Dense yet clear, intense yet graceful.
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websites: Facebook.com/slidhr | Myspace.com/slidhr
Release Dates: EU: 2013.05.24 | US: 05.28.2013
I wouldn’t blame you for having the thought in the back of your mind for giving Slidhr‘s album a miss based solely on the fact black metal has become rather over-saturated with copycats and generally uninteresting bands. I hear the pitchforks raising already so allow me to stress that I adore black metal, it being one of my favoured subgenres of extreme metal, but I really have fallen out of touch with recent acts over the last five years. This is due to them being so dependant on the innovations of their forebearers, with more bands relying on that style instead of innovating and creating a style of their own. It leaves somewhat of a husk – aesthetically pleasing material without the individuality to give it life or the ability to resonate in any way.
Allow me to attempt an argument in Slidhr‘s favour though, because there are several things they do right that other bands simply can’t seem to get a grasp on. For example, Aosoth from France have such an alluring, opaque sound, but just don’t have the composing and organizational skills to back it up. Deathspell Omega have a brilliant style of dissonant, chaotic riffs, but unfortunately it’s a sound that can tire out very quickly for some listeners and become gimmicky. Then you have more forward-thinking bands such as Woe (US) that have interesting instrumentation and approach to black metal, but forgoe dark atmospherics. Slidhr doesn’t only seem to be aware of the things these bands do correctly, but also what these bands do wrong and they intertwine every aspect of modern black metal without any apparent blunders to speak of. Mix the good points, fix the bad points and bam – Deluge by Slidhr.
Mind you, that analysis comes across as rather trivial, and there is certainly more to this album than taking what other bands do. First and foremost Slidhr appear to be orthodox black metal with a slightly dissonant vein, very much reminiscent of European modern black metal, but other things become apparent as the album unravels that mark them as something else. Notable is the reserve this band exercize – even the loudest and most chaotic parts are handled with equal amounts of intensity and grace. None of the organizational skills get lost in translation through the intense pacing of the blackened tones; a common pothole in modern black metal. Couple this with the fact there’s some commendable layering on this album just waiting to be unravelled, along with how subtly it’s handled. I’ve always been one to reward a band for refusing to rest on their laurels and wearing their achievements on their sleeves.
As for individual tracks, a great achievement of this dense ten-track record is that none of these tracks really resemble each other past the natural similarities that come with black metal territory. The structures of the tracks constantly waver as do the performances. The drums rarely stick to simply carrying the song’s energy and the guitars often intertwine riffs together, often making it difficult to decipher them without repeated listens. Some of the tracks even have subtle samples that add a lot of weight and personality to them – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you missed them on the first play through, especially considering the opaque, dense and unforgiving style of production and playing. Yet for something so opaque and dark, it’s unusually clear.
Deluge is a chaotic yet unusually organized and immaculate record. The name of the album would signify more of a huge, massive, in-your-face affair, but Deluge is far more focussed, less sudden and more inclined to reward patience and focus. It rewards on many levels due to instant, immediate appeal, enough layers to unravel and diversity to tap into to make repeated listens just as enlightening as the first. Couple this with stellar production and you’re onto quite the winning combination that many black metal acts these days unfortunately starve us of.
There’s absolutely no innovation beyond the transformations and refinement of well-known conventions, but much of what Slidhr does right would be lost if there were. Deluge is a well-rounded, well-executed modern black metal album that any fan of the genre will find enjoyment in.