French oddballers Slift don’t really do genre pigeonholing, and manage expectation for their fourth release with a suitably oblique yet wide-ranging statement:
‘For sulfur guitar lovers, Prog from beyond the grave and blip blup blop of old synthesizers. Blitzkrieg fuzz and geyser Free. Bass escaping from the Minas Morgül’s dungeons, and Nostromo’s drums travelling at the speed of light. Vicious solos and assassins bends. Acid krautrock and cosmic-comics jazz. There are distant echoes and reveries, celestial choirs illuminating space. And r r e e p p e e t t i i t t i i o o n n. Ancestral voices and ancient extraterrestrial rites. Abyssal doom and apocalyptic noise. There’s chaos. And there’s silence.’
It powers in with a frenzy or high-octane desert prog amped up with a dash of metal before tripping out bigstyle. These guys know how to lay into a riff, alright, but they also know when to pull it back and let the strolling bass groove go full psych with a twist of vintage blues rock. I know, it sounds messy, and when there’s some whacked-out wah-wah action and Zeppelinesque guitar work giving way to a barrage of distortion and full-throated industrial vocal you’d wonder what the fuck was going on if you had time to think.
‘It’s Coming’ locks into a motoric groove and vibes out hard on a space rock trip for an expansive 8-and-a-half minutes, and whips into a blistering climax.
There are some slightly awkward, hippy-trippy psychedelic folk-prog moments, but they’re brief and usually blown away by megalithic riffage, so they’re forgivable on balance.
Even the shorter songs feel epic, as they pack in infinite shifts and twists into four or five minutes, and the mega-fuzzed out guitars that often swirl into a kaleidoscopic blitz of all-out treble distortion are pinned down by a solid rhythm section. And when they do go epic, they really do go epic: ‘Citadel on a Satellite’ meanders and occasionally bursts in an explosion of fireworks over the course of a full 10 minutes, while the closer, ‘Lions, Tigers, and Bears’ is a whopping 13 and a half minutes of blistering guitars, while also harbouring an unexpectedly catchy, if ferocious and punky, chorus.
Space is the place for these guys, and they know how to fill it with some big sounds.