ARTIST: SLOW CRUSH
LABEL: HOLY ROAR
RATING: 7 /10
WORDS: CORAL DANIELS
‘Aurora’ is not an album you pick to listen to for easiness; it makes the listener work hard. The album compels you to listen to it repeatedly, more intently each time and despite not having a pop like catchiness, your soul gets sucked into their dream world of grungy shoegaze, as if approaching a black hole in space.
However, it’s only effective for a patient listener. It’s not an instant hit by far, it takes time and repetitive plays for it to grow on you. For Slow Crush’s debut though, it’s an album from a band who are assured of their sound, even if it is an acquired taste.
Typical of the shoegaze genre, the vocals are frequently buried beneath loud pounding drums and distorted scratchy guitar riffs; hence the work aforementioned. As a sound, the vocals are beautifully eerie, with a haunting elongation on certain lyrics, but it means you need to listen to it on full volume, in a quiet space, with more than one listen, before you can piece the words together and understand.
“glistening with life experience and pain…”
Whilst to some this may be frustrating, it adds a poetic touch, as this could be reflective of the tones and themes within the lyrics. The title track ‘Aurora’ for example, has laced ethereal imagery in “Pure hearts colour night skies” with an underlying fierceness “Tear me down, I’ll watch you fall”. The other-worldly allure, with a hint of passive aggression, makes for an uncomfortable combination, which accompanies a rather unhinged sound perfectly.
‘Tremble’, which is the third song on the album, also has a darkness to it. Lyrics such as: “Voiceless,unspoken” and “Violence,unloved”, highlighting the gloomy, yet seductive voice, glistening with life experience and pain.
‘Tremble’s’ tempo is also slower in comparison to the other tracks, drawing more attention to the words and voice; showcasing Isa Holliday’s inner siren. There’s also a sneaky surprise towards the end of this one. After the build of a crescendo…Silence. The pause lulls you into a false sense of closure. There’s still an outro of wailing guitar and drum-kit bashing before the abrupt ending.
‘Glow’, ‘Beached’ and ‘Drift’ are all eagerly awaiting a sweaty, crowded room, of headbangers. The energy embedded in these tracks are mosh-pit ready and pack a punch too. ‘Glow’ is the opener of ‘Aurora’ – a smart choice. Instantly, you’re thrown into the middle of a swirling pit of heavy. Instrumentation takes a front seat on this one, with the spotlight on the percussion, who’s doing more than keeping the pace, with nice little fillers spicing it up. By the time it ends, it’s easy to picture the on-stage carnage this could cause live; certainly a track that will require a brief, breath-catching break.
“…For a doomy sounding album, ‘Aurora’ is surprisingly uplifting and itching to be played live. “
‘Beached’, the penultimate song, keeps the pace of the opener. The layered sounds create an effect that leave you wondering if you’re hearing whispered voices, or if the instruments are talking. It plays tricks on your mind much like a labyrinth does. While ‘Drift’s’ intro has similarities to a groaning whale in parts, almost sinister and sad all at once.
The worry with ‘Aurora’, is that it does have the potential to get boring, if pondered for too long, as there isn’t a huge variety and difference across the 8-track album. Obviously, if a sombre toned cocktail of hypnotic guitars and vocals, shaken up with pulsing drum rhythms, is to your taste, then that could be enough to satisfy you.
For a doomy sounding album, ‘Aurora’ is surprisingly uplifting and itching to be played live. The commendable debut from Slow Crush, is out now, via Holy Roar Records. ‘Aurora’ will be loved by fans of: My Bloody Valentine, Nothing and Slowdive.