Despite a collection of CDs that is threatening to collapse shelves and cave in the attic, and in a nod to the modern age, hard drives that are nearly maxed out, it is not possible even for a muso like me to have heard of, or for that matter, heard anything more than a tiny percentage of all the bands out there that are likely to appeal to me. As such, when Snailking’s ‘Storm’ came hurtling my way from the esteemed editor of the site you are reading, it was an entirely unknown entity. Eschewing research, not even a quick peek at the band’s home page, the headphones were plugged in and my eardrums were battered with a bass heavy riff of concrete slab heaviness. Within just a couple of chords of opener ‘To Wonder’, I immediately pictured the band in my mind’s eye, earnest bearded men wielding well used Rickenbacker basses and Gibson guitars in front of a stack of valve driven Marshall amps from which rolled a dirty sonic fog. Not your thing? Tough luck, it’s definitely mine!
After the initial ten minute plus auditory slog of hypnotic riffs and low in the mix tortured vocals of the opener, ‘Premonitions’ crawled forth, the delivery being even heavier and darker, driven by a drum beat like a metronome on ketamine, before halfway through the track develops into gentle, almost pastoral section, that’s if the pasture was a field of magic mushrooms, this gentle idyll being in turn bulldozed away by a protracted assault of down tuned doom that could rattle the fillings from a bystander’s teeth. By comparison ‘Slithering’ positively streaks past at a mere six and a half minutes, but only in the sense that a steam roller might streak past, or maybe over, a shambling zombie; speed metal it is not.
For classic stoner doom the band excels with ‘Requiem’, a 17 minute epic of the form that would easily deserve its own EP, or be the centre piece of a live show. Distorted funereal plucking accompanies the opening rainfall effects, before being joined in the cortege by a restrained rhythm section. A good five minutes pass before the amps are dialled up to eleven, the guitars hammering down like the slogging reluctant march of the damned towards the underworld, occasional discordant blasts of the guitar enhancing the hellishness of the track as it builds up layer by sludgy layer into a howl of feedback finish.
With ‘Storm’ Snailking have delivered a classic slice of doom with no little skill. Whilst some folks want to hear buzz saw guitars played at warp factor ten, that is not what the band is about; rather the band have offered a challenge to the likes of Electric Wizard to deliver the goods with their forthcoming album or the title of masters of the form may be exported from these shores to Sweden. Oh, after listening to the album, I looked up the band: earnest bearded men wielding well used Rickenbacker basses and Gibson guitars in front of a stack of valve driven Marshall amps.