"Our Slow Decay"

By Earthdog

I must start this review off with an apology. Someone told me a long time ago that Denver, Colorado's Black Sleep of Kali are another so-called"post-rock" band and that tag alone was enough to make me cringe and put this on the back burner. What a mistake that was...this band is great and while this debut album from them could be classed as "post-rock", it is an apocalyptic version of it that makes the likes of Mastodon and Baroness seem rather ordinary.

Putting musical tags aside now, this album is just kick ass rock and roll with crushing riffing and it is also burning with energy. The band is more aggressive than the bands I have rather unfairly put-down as they sound closer to the likes of Elder than they do Mastodon but they still have the progressive edge that they have but Black Sleep Of Kali use it in a much more muscular way and inject a lot more aggro into the mix. "Our Slow Decay" is an album that grabs your balls and squeezes them tight for its entire duration. It can be painful but it can also produce an incredible high. This is released on the Small Stone Records label but is far more abrasive than the usual happy riff-rock that the label is mostly known for and therefore this band stands out on their roster. The album is uncompromising and aggressive but with a strong sense of melody. The only minor complaint is the guitar sound which is beautifully low and heavy but sounds horribly compressed in parts which takes away some of the live feeling of the recording and I am sure these songs would come to life even more played live. As a band, Black Sleep Of Kali are a machine, guitars riff away with an intense energy while the drum fills are just pulverizing. The vocals of guitarist Taylor Williams are the driving force behind the melodies, his voice is a perfect match for the pummeling music. It should also be noted that Andy Patterson from Iota recorded "Our Slow Decay" for Small Stone and Iota's Joey Toscano delivers a solo in a tune called "An End With No Beginning".

There is not a major weak moment on the album and every track has something about it that stands out on its own as memorable. "There is Nothing" has killer vocal arrangements that are catchy along with irresistible musicianship and the track turns into a sonic-jam of sorts halfway through that turns everything monolithic. "Euology" has a magical moment when the track goes into the "refrain" section, the song takes an unexpected turn that shows real class with layered vocals and a captivating mood-swing. The drumming on this album is one of the driving forces behind the band. Like High On Fire, if you took it away a lot of the energy would be lost. This dude plays like he is on a wonder-drug, his work around the kit is fierce. "The Great Destroyer" is an epic dose of sludge-driven riffing that keeps you on the edge of your seat. "The Crow And The Snake" shows how incredible the band is by laying down a killer groove but then adding drum pattens straight from outer-space. Most other bands would take the most straight-forward approach they could think of but Black Sleep Of Kali head in the other direction completely inserting weirdness into the drum arrangement. "The Crow And The Snake" is verging on thrash metal in a way but they do it in a way that could never be considered typical or generic and this is the bands most redeeming feature as they roll various styles into one seamless package. Another great track is the 8 minute "In Time" where the dual-part harmony vocals are pure magic, perhaps this tune is a little long for what it is but with the vocals and the great guitar playing, the overall effect is still hypnotic. The band gets a little loose on another track, "Big Sky" which adds another dimension to the album as the rest of the album is beyond tight. This tune is the most typical "stoner" tune on the album, sounding more like a jam session that a precise piece of composition. The doom, sludge and all out rock elements all come together on this track that kicks ass but also keeps in mind, musical accessibility.

"Cries of the Crow" has some of the strongest vocals on the album but the song itself tends to be a bit forgettable. I put that down to having some strong competition from the rest of the tunes and please note that even the weakest tracks are still worthy inclusions. The song with Toscano's guest appearance, "An End With No Beginning", is a great example of a weaker track that can still wipe the floor with most other bands' material. The song seems to have the band on repeat playing something they more or less have already done. It is still a heavy doom-laden track but it lacks a certain spark that the album's earlier tracks had. It also suffers just a tiny bit from being too long for what it is, a problem that rears its head more than once on "Our Slow Decay". Some songs go on for a minute or two too long and they kind of lose their impact. People say "no album is perfect" but this one gets damn close at times. Take a look at this list of bands: Black Cobra, Mastodon, Baroness, High On Fire, Elder. If these bands are on your regular playlist, you will want to get yourself a copy of this. This album is not perfect but I have a feeling the next one might be so I'm looking forward to that one now. In the meantime, I'll be getting many hours of enjoyment from this powerhouse recording.....8/10.