Formally known as Pet Slimmers Of the Year, the far pithier PSOTY return from a lengthy sabbatical with this their second full length release and follow up to 2014’s ‘Fragments Of Uniforms. I already like them though hailing, as they do, from the barren, sugar cane stinking, flatlands of nowhere land Peterborough where bad things not only go to die but live also. Flippantly snide comments aside, I did spend a fair few years living in those desolate wastelands after my Dad came out of the forces and although a none-more horrid place could you imagine, Peterborough does hold a modicum of good memories from growing up in dog shit strewn parks, fetid sewers that Pennywise would turn his red clowns nose up and now this.
Maybe it’s because I keep putting my hand up for anything with space, math, epic, rock etc etc in the title/genre description that wanders its way into Ave Noctum’s haunted house on the hill, but there seems to be a real proliferation over the last year or so for these type of epic, sprawling and grandiose expansive alt rock releases that wouldn’t know how to spell, let alone, play, two and a half minute, verse , chorus, verse chorus, vignettes……..NO!!!! We must have 10 minutes plus world eaters of songs that take their time getting to where they want to go before segueing into the abyss. PSOTY peddle beautifully dense waves of hypnotic beats and ground trembling guitars, certainly on the non-more pretentiously named but beautifully played ‘Watcher Of The Abyss’ which cascades through vast open prairie lands like a dust devil sucking in matter from the earth before throwing its detritus into the ether before petering out into relative silence.
There are bands that have done this sort of thing before and it’s the usual suspects such as Neurosis, Isis the Band, Pelican and to some degree the short, sharp metal pop sensibilities of Black Peaks (certainly in the sporadic vocals delivery) that make PSTOY not derivative in a negative sense, but somewhat recognisable as well as being grand in scale. ‘Queen of Hades’ follows a similar trajectory with hints at slightly heavier flavours that aren’t a million miles away from early Cave In, Devil Sold His Soul and the Deftones/Isis side project Palms. These are lofty musical comparisons and whilst I don’t use them lightly, PSOTY certainly deserve them. This is a dense body of work that is impressive in its scope as it is for its huge production job that behoves the bands humble origins and current standings. Listening to the album as a whole, I think that they sound better on the purely instrumental songs, that’s not to say the vocals aren’t good, they are, but it’s the instrumental passages that really fire the imagination and allow you to really bury yourself head first into PSTOY’s world.
These guys haven’t reinvented the wheel here but it’s an impressive album, full of depth, great playing all washed down with a magnificent production job. If it’s a compliment, (and it’s meant as one) I think this would play even better live and I look forward to enjoying this in the flesh.
(8/10 Nick Griffiths)