The Electric Dunes of Titan is so heavy and so slow, it’s like listening to John Goodman walk. While that joke may be in poor taste, the most recent album from Aussie sludge-rockers Motherslug, which is also being heralded as their “first true album”, certainly is not. A complete lack of levity or otherwise joy is to be expected within doom and sludge metal albums, yet Motherslug seem to have excelled in this, creating a hard, sluggish album so densely packed full of crushing riffs, you can practically feel the music weighing you down.
Most people would say that you should start anything with a bang, therefore making an instant impression. Slightly tweaking this, Motherslug start their album not with a bang, but with a ‘boom’ instead, caused by drummer Nick, who is responsible for creating a noise so deep and heavy-sounding that you can practically feel the weight of the sound itself. Preceded only by the briefest of intertwining guitars, this is what opens The Electric Dunes of Titan on the introductory track “Downriver”, immediately and purposefully demonstrating exactly what kind of album to expect; a Goddamn heavy one!
The album follows suit in such a fashion, with each new track becoming heavier than the last, a journey through a guitar-laden soundscape where you encounter nothing but the most titanic and skull-crushingly heavy walls of sound. Interestingly enough though, unlike most albums, the songs of The Electric Dunes of Titan do not follow in to one another or otherwise attach themselves together, instead standing alone. This is in no way a negative however as what this means is that each track is self-contained and has its own style and technique within it, allowing for more of a demonstration of the ability of the members of Motherslug. For example, the final track, “Cave of the Last God” presents itself as not simply a song, but an epic. A tale with rises and falls which is represented in the music, seeing the entire band play as one, slowly growing in crescendo, the pace quickening, with the band becoming uncontrollable and… nothing. A quiet, almost loving twang of guitar slowly continues the song, now a shadow of the monster it had once been. A true Jekyll and Hyde situation.
Countering this is “Followers of the Sun”, a track which wears its heart on its sleeve and makes it’s intentions known immediately with the long, heavily distorted tones of guitarist Regan. Full of amp-squeal and a style of singing which would not go amiss at a My Dying Bride concert, this is an all-together different kind of beast from “Cave of the Last God”. While the latter acts as a trickster, creating vast soundscapes only to take them away from you. “Followers of the Sun” however, is an uncaged, and very angry bear, lashing out at whatever may come near. A barbaric, yet entirely enjoyable, assault on the ear-drums which packs a punch and leaves you begging for more.
The Electric Dunes of Titan makes listeners hark back to the old days of sludge and doom metal, back to the era of Sleep, and even taking inspiration from the grandaddies of metal themselves, Black Sabbath, with a smattering of influences from everything in between the two. It is a demonstration as to how slow guitars and clean vocals can still easily outweigh any modern metal outfit in terms of heaviness. It is an exploration of sludge metal too, with the album as a whole acting as variations on a theme; each track certainly belongs within the sludge metal genre, yet each still manages to be distinct and different from the last, proving that there is more to the genre than simply playing slowly. If this is to be the first album from Motherslug, then I am already excited for their second.
P.S. – I love you, Mr. Goodman, you bring life to every role you play, but some jokes are just too easy to make.
The Electric Dunes of Titan is out now, and is available to download here.