With 2024 being the band’s 20th anniversary, and only one lineup change in that time – that over a decade ago – it’s a fair bet that Belfast’s SLOMATICS has a grasp on its sound, as far as what fits and doesn’t. Wall-Of-Sound amps, a mixture of riff-rockin’ majesty and low-end groove have always been the trio’s “bread and butter”, but they’ve also never shied away from experimentation or journeys into fuzz-fueled psychedelia when the mood (or bong) hits.
Speaking of which, though the past has seen the band releasing songs just over 1 and over 10 minutes in length on the same album, overall, Strontium Fields harks back to the daze of 2012’s A Hocht, a more concise statement, with only a few tunes approaching or exceeding the six-minute mark. Not that there isn’t atmosphere to be found, as ‘Wooden Satellites’ is ushered in by a SAINT VITUS murked-out rumble from the early Wino years, drummer Marty’s clear vocal delivery almost at odds with the Cro-Magnon pound of his work behind the kit.
Stepping back a few thousand anthropological years, ‘I, Neanderthal’ wallops scene favorites CONAN soundly, both more memorable and weightier, at least to these ears. ‘Like A Kind Of Minotaur’ spot-welds washes of tasteful keys to a positively monstrous swagger-stomp, and its here the new listener will realize just how important those two shades can be when found on the same sonic palette and used wisely. “We’re all afraid together / We’re running out of time” begins ‘Voidian’, clearly marking this album as a self-described “post pandemic reflection”, yet one with hope and joy interwoven with tomorrow’s uncertainty, “It’s a new day / Head out to the world with a sense of possibilities” almost JON ANDERSON-like in its mystical meanderings. That’s only in the first two minutes, mind, so you doom-dogs will still get your fix in the last four. Simply put, ‘Voidians’ is captivating, and positioned perfectly as the near-centerpiece.
Earlier, I mentioned SLOMATICS’ eighth being a more “concise” statement, and I abide by that. Still, from its beginning to the expansive roll of ‘With Dark Futures’, Strontium Fields is a robust, adventure-filled trip worth taking again and again.
Review By: Lord Randall
Black Bow Records