The sheer volume of music out there, divided into a plethora of disparate genres and subgenres, never ceases to amaze me. As lovers of the art form we are all sweeping our musical metal detectors across these heaving, sonic haystacks, searching for the tiny needles in each that prick our attention. The idea, of course, is that we collect enough needles from enough haystacks to satiate our own desire. As we grab our needles to knit our own musical sweater, it’s so easy to forget the vast weight of bands we either fail to pick-up on, or do so and discard.
Drawers are a band who, amidst the trend for those one-word, pluralised bandnames and the resurgent craze for atmospherics and big riffs, are in danger of not getting picked up. It’s clear from, “All Is One”, their debut album about a sailor’s journey to meet his nemesis, that the band have sucked up many different flavours of sludge and stoner metal to produce a hard, smothering sound that’s heavy enough to suffocate.
They start aggressively with both “Capuut Mortem Ocean” and “Black Queen” ripped with the grumbling guitar tone of High On Fire and enamoured with a touch of the dark power of Purified In Blood. “Grey Sailor” piles some of Corrosion Of Conformity’s hardcore feistiness into the mix, dissecting the rhythmic groove into spasming sections. Mostly though, you’ll be hearing plenty of the low-keyed progressive fury of Crowbar and Down, especially in tracks like “Ivory Lighthouse”, “Red Ballet” and “Muddy Smoke”, both in the Anselmo meets Windstein vocal and the heft of dissonance, dissolving the chugs into a singular sound.
Tracks like the short-but-sweet “Blue Keel” and the more expansive “Silver Hand” dig down into cleaner waters adding another brief layer with a more pinched, proggy quality a la Baroness or Isis. “Silver Hand”, in particular, is a winner having retained the driven punch built up from previous tracks to offer a taste of both worlds. Another cracker is the raw power-play, “Golden Adieu”, which simply refuses to cede ground to allow you room to breathe.
With quite a few recognisable influences up front and centre, the task of projecting their own stamp on the project becomes increasingly more important as the tracks roll by. Sadly, by “Purple Ride” and “Electric Seat”, Drawers have succumbed to towing the stoner metal line, mimicking Down almost to the last detail in an attempt to suck up some of their signature, grime-slicked, deep Southern groove, wobbling along the same path, facetiously mimicking their bow-legged gait.
It’s odd that an album whose song-titles feature an array of colours should seem so undeviating, but it’s an album that undoubtedly has an enormous heft to it. It’s for this reason that, despite its lack of variety and tendency to copycat, fans of any of the aforementioned bands, should get a kick out of this. For the rest of you, as it stands, if your detector gets one whiff of these Frenchmen right now, it will simply short-circuit and Drawers will find themselves sliding back down to the bottom of that haystack.
(5/10 John Skibeat)