Fifteen years is a long time in metal. It’s even longer when you play the gargantuan drawn out sludge that Belfast’s Slomatics do.  The appropriately named “Canyons” is their 6th full length release and having released a trilogy of sorts in the last few years they have taken the opportunity to go for a wander in the darkened woods with this one on Black Bow.

Slow, brutally heavy, melodic and enchanting. That is the Slomatics blueprint. Opening with the mournfully majestic “Gears of Despair” Marty Harvey’s vocals soar across the backdrop of crushing riffs provided by David Marjury and Chris Couzens (do they really not have a bassist – is this fuzz provided by 6 strings of the thinner variety) . Harvey also plays drums and synths and it is the latter which is more prominent than on past releases, offering an otherworldy resonance without disappearing up Prog alley.  There is just so much melody to enjoy throughout the 8 tracks without detracting from the bombast. There are huge echoes of Lee Dorians Cathedral pipes in Cosmic Guilt and fans of that troop and Candlemass will certainly be happy/sad throughout the experience of “Canyons”.

“Telemachus my Son” has a great 70’s groove to it without going retro. The keys add grandeur and gravitas as Harvey shouts through the storm.

“Beyond the Canopy” is an eerie spacey little number – I say little, nothing about this bastard is small, each track is as big as my ego with riffs the size of my belly.  The synths lead the listener to a delicate silk thread of an acoustic passage before crushing it with a riff returning like the backswing of a wrecking ball.

“Mind Fortresses” breezes in like a Wiccan in springtime. There is a touch of Torche to the rhythms and melody which gets my thumbs up.  The vocals are grand. I love a clean vocal me. In a world of gravelly growlers it’s awesome to hear someone enunciate!

“Canyons” closes with “Organic Caverns II, which sounds a little like a middle-class hipster porn film.  It is not however; rather it is a big bucket of booming dirty riffs and wonderful melody.  Plenty of punch amid the sludge and chug with gentle passages to offer some respite.

Slomatics have created a wonderful beautiful beast with as much soft fur as it has horns and teeth.

A creature to welcome in but always keep an eye on.

(7.5/10 Matt Mason)