As AMG himself wrote recently, we all tend to pick records that we think we’re going to like. After all, it would be lunacy to embark on a mighty quest to purposely listen to something you know you’ll hate an amount of times numbering in the double digits. That said, I’ll freely admit to occasionally picking records to review based on how good I find the band name, the album title, or both. Case in point: Sloth., the one man doom machine piloted by the UK’s Blake Caverly and the project’s debut full-length Slow as Shit. If that’s not a welcome change from doom’s usual dour titles, I don’t know what is. Also, look at that cover. This is one of those records I simply want to like, and the less effort I’m required to expend to do so, the better.
Unsurprisingly, Sloth. have created a slow record that sounds like the sluggish stoner doom Bongripper is known for, mixed with Pallbearer and a few nods to the “amp worship” scene. You’ll get guitar harmonies, drones, and fat riffing all in one Slow as Shit package. There are scant few vocal lines here, so while the Pallbearer influence is present and accounted for Brett Campbell’s vocals are not. When vocals do make an appearance, they’re a boilerplate distorted scream that works well but isn’t anything of particular note. In short, this is a fairly droning doom record with heavy stoner leanings and the dark clouds of frowning leads intermingling with the omnipresent fog of wacky tobacky smoke.
The best parts of Slow as Shit lie at the tail-end of the record. “Nothing but Leaves” and “Awaken That Which Sleeps” add some death metal elements into the doom brew and are successful because of it. The opening riff of the former is memorable and simple, followed by something much more reserved and closing with a very slow buildup to the loudness of the beginning. It’s been done before, but it works here nonetheless. The latter begins on a surprisingly somber note that almost reaches modern My Dying Bride levels of gloominess, and speeds up at the end for a rock-solid finish. It’s a fairly long piece but the payoff is certainly worth it, as it’s a well-written, well-performed, and overall well-done tune. This track alone sold me on the potential of this project, and if this direction is followed more in the future I’d be excited to see where Sloth. goes.
The problem with the rest of Slow as Shit is that it never manages to push itself past the always growing “listen once or twice and move on” pile that plenty of music falls into. Some of it is outright boring, with the droning “Green Sunrise” and “Waking Up” being the prime examples. In merging the Pallbearer and Bongripper schools of doom, the melodic strengths of the former and the Southern-fried grooves of the latter don’t bolster each other and instead miss the mark on what made the sound of both appealing. In addition, these sound more like extended jams than songs with a direction like the aforementioned highlights, and seem to merely fill time rather than take advantage of it. While it’s not bad, an alarming amount of Sloth.‘s debut fades to the background due to incessant repetition and some unmemorable riffs, making it weirdly good “chill” music but not overly conducive for active, focused listening; two out of the seven songs here come recommended, which isn’t a great number by any metric. “Smoke ‘N Sleep” torpedoes the great closing “Awaken That Which Sleeps” provided, moving through a bizarre mishmash of electronic samples, a random guitar solo, and audio clips about marijuana. It’s not even saved by being interesting out of context (making its inclusion a real head-scratcher), but I suppose that in a one-man band you can’t help but be surrounded by yes-men.
Sloth. is an interesting project more in concept than in practice, and while it sounds good the programmed drums make themselves obvious when doing anything more than the simplest of patterns. This can become slightly distracting, but guitar and bass makes up for it with clear but hefty tones that serve the music here well. I wanted to like this more than I did, and unfortunately Slow as Shit won’t be what I’ll reach for when I need my doom fix. Aside from “Awaken That Which Sleeps” and the album title track, I’m not finding much to love here. Slow as Shit boils down to a competent stoner doom record, an inessential yet inoffensive listen that will likely spur on a bout of musically induced lethargy if it’s played all the way through.