I was trying to think of a way to describe this music, not being a fan of genres and tags, but recognising that people want to know what to expect before they listen to something. The best tag I could think of was “stoner-rock-tech-doom-metal”, but then I read the accompanying press-release that the lads from Dr. Slaggleberry kindly supplied me with the CD. They describe their music as math-rock. Of course! It all makes sense now. I’m a bit of a noob when it comes to genres, or more specifically I prefer to ignore them, but I know what math-rock is and it is very becoming of this album. Math – these guys like numbers! I cannot even begin to imagine the practice time required to nail this type of music. Just trying to keep track of the tempo-changes and modal shifting is a head-spin, and in the end this music is just so damn calculated, so precise, so intricate, that it’s almost overwhelming.
Furthermore, the first thing that comes across when you listen to this is that it is fuckin’ HEAVY! The powertude of their riffage is unrivalled by anything I’ve heard this year. And they don’t even have a bassist! With just two guitars and drums, this outstanding three-piece manage to fill the frequency spectrum with growling low-end subwoofer delight and high-end free-wheeling lead breaks, cemented solidly by the meat in the middle. It sounds like at least a 4 piece band, but there is no layering. It’s just guitar vs. guitar vs. drums. I say ‘versus’ very appropriately, as the whole album sounds like a battle between the different instruments. Math rock evolved from the fusion of technical jazz and rock. Where listening to a jazz CD conjures up images of the musicians dancing together, listening to something as heavy as this brings forth a different sort of image, a different sort of dance: that of gladiators in the ring, circling, striking, parrying; the dance of Death.
All the while there is still that sense of “calculation”. It’s so intricate it seems that if you got out a pen and paper and dissected this music, you would discover some secret about the nature of the universe. But that is not the intended effect. It is so complex that you just can’t follow the sharp twists and turns, and thus ends up sounding like pure, raw, Chaos. I’m a lover of Chaos Theory, fractals and the like, and as I listen various thoughts propel themselves to the forefront from my subconscious: from chaos comes order (for example, the branches and leaves of a tree spring out randomly, yet the tree is ultimately symmetrical), yet this music reveals that from order comes chaos. There is no doubt that these guys have arranged the music precisely, they know exactly where each note is gonna land and when. Yet, it does sound like something from another plane of existence; otherworldly, all over the place, from somewhere so chaotic it’s almost too much.
This brings me to my final point: unfortunately I feel it is a bit too much. No sooner do you grasp an awesome hook than it falls through your fingers to be replaced by something else. The moment you start head-banging to a solid 4/4 beat it is replaced by 13/8 time. It’s the reason why a lot of people don’t like jazz. Too much change, not so much “songs”, as “shifting patterns”. I feel, however, that the more I listen to this album the more familiar it will become, and although I may never be able to fathom the mysteries written in the bizarre numerology of this music, it’s heaviness will always make it a great wake-up album and these amazing musicians will always be held in high esteem through my eyes.
The Slagg Factory by Dr. Slaggleberry is out now through Crash Records, and is highly recommended for anyone who likes something different.