Album Review: Slabdragger – “Rise of the Dawncrusher”

Slabdragger - Rise Of The Dawncrusher artwork

I don’t know if I’ve ever encountered an album where the cover art so perfectly visualizes the auditory experience that awaits its listeners. Yes, I know the world of music is packed to the gills with phenomenal artwork, cool band logos, mascots, name treatments in various logos, etc. etc. But just go with me on this for a second and look at that thing. Rise of the Dawncrusher features that monstrosity of a spaceship/planet drill thingy (I’m assuming it’s the titular “Dawncrusher” itself) literally burrowing into the land mass and crust, spewing out rocks, rubble and oh by way, hapless human beings into the vacuum of space. All the while, it’s belching out fire and brimstone just like Slabdragger

Pummeling, brutal, relentless, and devastating.

And that’s exactly what this record is. What’s really remarkable is that this is only the second album from this London-based trio. The way in which they blend their styles (doom, sludge, hardcore and more) into a cohesive metal sound is downright impressive. Some of these tracks shouldn’t work, but damn it, they do. By some miracle of metallurgy, they do. The vocal work of Yusuf Tary and Sam Thredder is the siren song that lures you into this machine of doom, whilst  Jack Newnham’s drum work is the earth-destroying drill that decimates your ears when it’s too late to turn back.

All of which is simply my way of saying: “Holy hell, this record is exhausting and awesome.” I love concept albums and I love long songs. But this sucker is no joke. Listening to this is an exercise in commitment, in all the best ways possible. There is only one track that’s under five minutes here and the other four are all 11 minutes or longer. For those of us that weren’t math fiends in college, that’s five tracks totaling just over an hour. These are musical pieces, crafted with movements and motifs that shift at a moment’s notice beneath your feet. Don’t let any of this scare you away, as the trip you’re about to go on with this music is absolutely worth it. But just know that you’ll probably feel like one of those people on the cover by the end, floating in your own headspace and wondering how in the world you got there.

My hat’s off to Slabdragger. This is a monstrous piece of metal, one that needs to both be heard and experienced.

– Jeremy Hunt

Rise of the Dawncrusher is available 2.26.2016 via Holy Roar Records. For more information on Slabdragger check out their Facebook page.

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