Sunday, July 21, 2013

Slantpiece -Aggression in the Midwest

Kearney Nebraska to most is a small sleepy town in the middle of the state if you know of Kearney at all.  Home to The University of Nebraska at Kearney and not much else.  When you think of new music, I would be willing to bet that Kearney isn’t in your top 1000 cities...yeah, I can’t think of 1000 cities either, but before Kearney you’d think of Omaha simply because of bands such as 311 as well as other artists who have had some success such as Matthew Sweet and Conor Oberst and his band Bright Eyes.  

If you were to travel to Kearney and look for good local music, you would find a resurgence in metal,  I’m not talking teased hair glam metal.  I’m talking about sludgy, heavy metal made by guys who know how to play and also know how to wring every bit of anger and aggression out of their instruments.  

The band that comes to mind immediately is a 4 piece band called Slantpiece.  Featuring the talents of Derek Johnson on vocals and guitar, Derek Tavis on lead guitar, Wryan Carpenter on bass, and Bill Sabah on drums, Slantpiece is a heavy band playing straightforward metal with influences ranging from Black Sabbath, Black Label Society, Clutch, Metallica, Slayer and Corrosion of Conformity.  

This band specializes in dark, heavy, brooding riffs, that while they are sludgy, they are very technical and precise.  They are currently working on their debut EP in Lincoln Nebraska. The EP will be titled ‘Get You Some’ .  Working with producer Michael Beck, who’s clients range from Chiamera, Soilwork, Knights of the Abyss, Marilyn Manson,
Ke$sha, Kill Hannah, Black Dahlia Murder, Badlands and Death, who are quite arguably the most notable death metal band on the planet.  

The band has recently made two songs, “Muddy Water” and “Act of Betrayal” available to listeners on the reverbnation website.  You can find these songs by going to www.reverbnation/slantpiece.  

So let’s dig into these tracks and see what makes them tick shall we?  The first offering is a track called “Act of Betrayal”.  This piece a mid tempo, heavy piece of work with a lot of aggression to offer.  The riff opens with a roar.  The bass work follows the lead riff closely and adds ferocity to it.  The drumming on this track is solid and accomplishes both driving the song as well as adding to the anger of the vocals.  The vocals on this track are throaty growls but not the typical RAWRROARLETSSEEHOWFUCKINGANGRYICANBEROAAARRRRR!!!  Johnson’s vocals are unique in that while they are heavy and angry, you can understand every word and he sings on key with the song rather than just a single note like so many of the bands that you hear today.  You honestly don’t hear musicianship this accomplished with bands who have honed their craft for years.  This is notable because this band got it’s start at the beginning of 2012.  

The second track, which in this reviewer’s opinion is the strongest of the two offerings is called “Muddy Water”.  
This song also shows another dimension of this band.  The guitar riff, while heavy is more melodic and feels a bit blues influenced.  Listening to this one, I am instantly reminded bands such as Down, Attika 7 and Biohazard.  Johnson’s vocals are a bit more melodic, with less of a rough edge to them, though adding screams at just the right times to punctuate the heaviness of the song.  This one gallops along and does not let up.  The drumming takes a back seat to the riff in this song and allows the guitar work to really shine of this track.  Note pinches at the end of some of the guitar lines are reminiscent of Zaak Wylde’s work for Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society.  

It is impossible to describe a band’s sound in a review.  The best way to hear a band’s talents are to hear them for yourself.  The sound of these two songs is clear and dynamic.  The songs are heavy and loud, but the sound is not brickwalled and hard limited such as most albums are nowadays that fall victim to the loudness wars.  It’s clear this band knows what they want and how they want to sound and will not compromise on that.  There are a lot of nationally known bands that could learn a lesson or two from the studio work of Slantpiece.  

Overall, this is work that should not be ignored.  This band is making good music and it should be heard, hopefully on a national level.