Saturday, December 22, 2012

... SLOW HEART "Dead Friends and Angry Lovers" (yet another Ice Dragon spin-off band !!!)

I wear black on the outside because that’s how I feel on the inside: SLOW HEART's 'Dead Friends and Angry Lovers’

Boston’s genre-hopping three-piece, Ice Dragon, is responsible for releasing one of the most compelling, tripped-out doom metal albums of the year with their excellent fourth full-length ‘Tome of the Future Ancients’. Seemingly not content to tread the same path twice, the band has pushed their collective sonic palettes into drone, 60’s psychedelia inspired dream-pop, and kraut-rock influenced freak-out territories among others. When not recording as Ice Dragon, the band has also assumed the identity of Tentacle—a dark, acerbic doom/drone/sludge abomination that worships at the altar of Cthulhu. Not to leave any stone unturned, the band—recording as Slow Heart—has bypassed the space-time continuum and released ‘Dead Friends and Angry Lovers’, a moody, reverential collection of tunes that would be right at home on an 80’s college rock radio station played amongst Bauhaus, The Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, or The Birthday Party. This may not be the doom metal or psychedelic rock that Ice Dragon has become synonymous with, but the five tracks that comprise ‘Dead Friends and Angry Lovers’ are a collection of atmospheric, sparse compositions that channel the best of 80’s post-punk and goth-rock.

“We Want the Night” opens the album with a gentle drumbeat alternating steadily between snare and bass before the heavily reverbed lead guitar protests dreamily in the background. Lead vocalist Ron Rochondo has further developed vocally by assuming a croon that falls somewhere between the sonorous, deep baritone singing voices of Nick Cave and Andrew Eldritch. “We Want the Night” establishes the mood for the rest of the album through its barren, minimalist composition that runs like a vein through three of the remaining four tracks. “Alone and Red” veers slightly from the minimalist goth-rock tendencies of “We Want the Night” in favor of an orchestral drone. This second track adds a meditative texture to ‘Dead Friends and Angry Lovers’ and serves as a foil to the remaining spectral compositions. “Never Trust a Woman (Dressed in Black)” is, musically, the best song that Echo and the Bunnymen never recorded provided said Bunnymen were on a steady diet of downers and didn’t give a fuck of whether they sold an album or not. “Die Tonight” is the soundtrack for a torturous descent into a personal abyss. The repetitive, haunting two notes played on the keyboard drives the anguish straight into the skull. ‘Dead Friends and Angry Lovers’ ends with the instrumental track “11:54pm (Waiting on Midnight)”. While this fifth track fits in well and remains consistent with the album as a whole, it could just as easily be a long lost Portishead demo minus the trip-hop tendencies.

In the absence of Ice Dragon or Tentacle I’ll take Slow Heart any day. Ron, Joe, and Carter have nailed it by drawing inspiration from late 70’s/early 80’s goth-rock and post-punk to create an album that transcends both the scene and era that influenced it. Ice Dragon’s fifth full-length, ‘Dream Dragon’, found the trio experimenting with lighter, psychedelic rock with much success, but ‘greyblackfalconhawk’ and now Slow Heart’s ‘Dead Friends and Angry Lovers’ confirms that Ron, Joe, and Carter are more than proficient at creating dark, atmospheric tunes seemingly on a whim. Here’s looking forward to more Slow Heart in the future.

Steve Miller

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