Sunday, July 28, 2013

Album Review: Slow Warm Death - Slow Warm Death

Album Rating: A
I was completely heartbroken when Snowing broke up. Their midwestern emo revival was a crucial part of my adolescence, and frontman John Galm was a genius in my mind. So you can only believe my excitement when I found out Galm had formed a new band called Slow Warm Death, and was putting out music again. I put the headphones on and prepared to fall back in love with one of my favorite lyricists, but instead of the intricate, emo-punk I expected, I was hit with a wall of sound. Slow Warm Death hit me like a ton of bricks. It was cacophonous, muddy, and Galm's delivery had transformed completely. I couldn't believe what had happened, and ended up turning the album off after just a few tracks. A few weeks later, I decided to give it another try. I thought perhaps I still had some resentment from Snowing calling it quits. I entered into the world of Slow Warm Death with open ears this time, and experienced something that I could have never imagined.

Slow Warm Death has no connecting elements to Galm's part work in Snowing or Street Smart Cyclist. Gone are the tender lyrics about heartbreak and loneliness, and the quieter moments are even further away. Slow Warm Death is a harsh album to take in. The production is lo-fi and the guitars' distortion is heavy, with high gain. "SLEEP" opens the album with the only soft patch to be found, with Galm's vocals being buried distantly away under acoustic guitar. This intro is futile, as the track unleashes itself like a crashing wave, with the vocal line riding the crest. Songs such as "CRACK" and "ALONE" will worm their melodies into your head with Galm sounding like a completely different man. He has completely matured from his past writing, and his songs are now much darker in nature.

Slow Warm Death play like a post-emo version of The White Stripes. Their bluesy, distorted garage rock is simple in nature but packs a complete punch. While Snowing's melodies were tangled throughout their verses, Slow Warm Death's are crammed into the choruses. Vocal lines are more succinct and compacted, and the instrumentation leaves no air space empty.

The heaviness and darkness of Slow Warm Death culminates on "KILL YOU," a brutal song that borders the line of black/sludge metal. Droning guitars drag you through the slow churning tune, as John sings "I am outside your house / and I want to kill you." The hypnotizing tone is mesmerizing, and the album then only ascends from the black pit which it descended into. The one-two punch of "BLOOD / BLOOD 2" help round out the album fully, with moderate indie rock, bookended by shoegazing melodrama.

Slow Warm Death may not be what listeners expected from a post-Snowing band, but after repeated listens it opens up a first chapter in what may be the new era of post-emo garage rock.

You can stream the album and download it for "name your price" on their bandcamp. The LP is also available from Square of Opposition Records.

Track list:
9. BLOOD 2

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