I suppose I should begin this retrospective with a cliché line like “Out of the ashes of Carnivore…” or something like that.
It’s a fitting beginning to an album that is as much of an end to a old chapter as it is a beginning to a new one.
‘Retaliation’ was an ugly, ugly album and ‘Slow, Deep and Hard’ is one step beyond in all the wrong directions.
Whilst Carnivore were heavily indebted to the traditional Sabbath doom break, this album utilises that concept to its extreme. The intro to ‘Cornucopia’ – compared to Carnivore’s eponymous track – is a good example.
Drawn out and totally tortuous riffs abound, often pushed out for a minute or so longer than necessary… it’s not supposed to be fucking fun!
This musical masochism is mimicked by the ultra-personal nature of the lyrics. ‘Retaliation’ began with the lines “I’m suffering from depression, the anger turned within”: and this record embodies that idea.
It’s not all an endurance test for the senses. The torture is interspersed with singalong moments like in the chorus of “Unsuccessfully…”; it’s almost like you’re being rewarded for enduring the sloooowwwww doom riffs.
Yet it’s a very difficult album to categorise.
The ugliness of the subject matter is matched by the sound of the album; isn’t that a fucking horrible guitar sound? The Hickey/Steele tandem was once described by the band as being like a “wall of diarrhea” and I think that’s pretty apt. You also get some pretty squawly guitar solos on here that are somewhere between Mantas (Jeff Dunn not proto-Death), Slayer and NYHC; not exactly pretty but totally fitting.
Sticking with the Carnivore comparisons, you could pretty much laugh off some of the worst excesses of Peter’s previous band given that they were often delivered in a tongue in cheek style. But Slow Deep and Hard is a lot grimmer. That’s not to say there isn’t a humorous side to proceedings; the call and response section of “I know you’re fucking someone else”…. “He knows you’re fucking someone else” never fails to bring a smile to my face, as do some of the more rocking sections of ‘Xero Tolerance’.
But that’s interspersed with the absolute ugliness of ‘Der Untermensch’ which pours scorn upon welfare recipients and the rest of the album’s revenge fantasy concept which had the band labelled as racist and misogynist which is something of a black and white way of looking at things if you ask me (ha!).
In the early 90s, many a metal band desperately tried to scramble away from the rapidly decaying thrash genre and this, in my eyes at least, was one of the more successful attempts at moving away from anything resembling thrash unto something new.
Pay attention and you’ll notice that there aren’t any thrash riffs here; they are all more along the lines of Black Sabbath meets hardcore that served the sludge subgenre well.
It’s important to note that this was a big yet relatively unsung influence upon that scene and yet you never really hear it mentioned as a “sludge” album. I’d like to note that I don’t think this has anything in common with Neurosis and the “atmospheric” bunch but certainly a big influence on Crowbar, Eyehategod and their ilk.
All in all, it’s an entirely different beast from what they ultimately became best known for and could be recommended as the “Type O Negative record for people who don’t like Type O Negative” as well as to those in search of the mutated offspring of thrash, hardcore and doom.
I can’t say that this is something I listen to back-to-front very often – but it’s a very worthwhile although not exactly “enjoyable” listen when I do.
– Tom Andrew ::: 05/01/16
–Would you like to write about a noteworthy album or band? MI is keen to hear from you. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.