With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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‘DRUGS’ EP – Sugar Horse May 22, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 3:29 pm
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Brutal Bristol Doomgazers, Sugar Horse’s new EP, DRUGS, is a punishing aural assault but it also features ephemeral moments of beauty. Doomy opening track, “Drugs”, utilizes neo-Sabbath riffs over apocalyptic, downtempo drumming, and (what feel like) random pauses filled with studio chatter. Vocalist, Ashley Tubb’s voice takes on similar qualities to Deftones’ Chino Morino when it soars into higher registers in the choruses. This chimes in well with DRUGS’ press material’s, which likens Sugar Horse to a Doomy Pink Floyd. It wasn’t unusual to read Deftones being described as the Nu-Metal Pink Floyd. Around the four-minute mark, some chanting, almost gospel-like, vocals come in over some chugging guitars before the track drops back down into the heaviest, most punishing, section yet.

“Pity Party” definitely earns the Doomgaze title, with its more melodic vocals & walls of reverbed fuzzy guitar noise and swirls of feedback replacing the hammering riffs of the previous track. The rhythm section maintains the punishing, metallic abrasiveness. There is an almost heroic, lighters-in-the-air atmosphere. Single, “Richard Branson In The Sky With Diamonds”, begins with fuzzier, shoegazey riffing, reminiscent of Pink-era Boris or some of the more melodic Sunn O))) tunes. The vocals are trademarked metal screams when they drop in and they fit in between the stop-start rhythms. There are twists and turns aplenty and the perceived loudness and heaviness dips and dives constantly. Vocalist Ashley Tubb says it’s “a centrepiece for the record. A mangling of every direction we go in, distilled down and blasted out at both destructive and fragile volume”.

“When September Rain” is a sparse, haunting ballad (as strange as that sounds), built around vicious snare drum crack and gentle synth melodies. It’s definitely an outlier here. The heavy reverbs on the vocals and the blending of the choral backing vocals with the main seems to lend it a quasi-religious feel. Towards the end, it builds up into a wall of pure noise that would make Brian Eno or Kevin Shields jealous. “Dogegg” is a slow, sludgy slice of abrasive Doom. Perfectly pitched to end this EP. It’s heavy riffing also gives strong Boris vibes. Perhaps more Amplifier Worship than Pink though. Despite its bludgeoning feel, there are moments of tranquillity where all you hear are gentle drum patterns, subby bass, and clean guitar chords. These atmospheric segments mainly serve to heighten the impact of the next loud section though, and they fulfil this role magnificently.

DRUGS is an unusual EP and there is almost guaranteed to be something, whether song or moment, which pleases everyone. It may, however, struggle to please some due to its variety. I cannot imagine purist Doomers enjoying “When September Rain”, for example. Personally, I find this level of variety and experimentalism extremely inviting. It is definitely impressive to find such variety on a five-track EP with a runtime below 30 minutes.

Written by Tom Ray.

DRUGS EP is available now on all good digital music platforms.

The pictures were found via Google and the videos were found on YouTube. If any of them are yours and you would either like a credit or for them to be removed please let me know.

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Wolf Gang – York City Screen Basement 16th November 2010 November 17, 2010

Having received the regular newsletter from Man Is Slapped recently I found that for the first time in ages I was able to attend one of his gigs. This would be the second time I have seen him at the York City Screen Basement, but more of him later. When I arrived I was greeted by the wonderful sound of Tom Waits playing over the house PA, including the fabulous “Hoist That Rag”. That just made me feel that this was set to be a good night and for once my instincts weren’t wrong, it was a great night.

First up were Detronik. Imagine a large serving of 80s Sheffield electro a la Human League and a couple of spoonfuls of the Stone Roses and Madchester at it’s 90s peak. Are you there? Well that’s how these guys made me feel. They were bloody good and if they were around in the 80s they would have cleaned up completely. I really loved their set, especially closing number “Death To The Disco”. Check out the band on MySpace and the original lineup on YouTube.

Man Is Slapped

Man Is Slapped was the second of three acts and this will be the third time I have seen him play. If you put down what he does on paper (or perhaps in a blog post) you would surely think that this shouldn’t work. But it does work and it works so very well. He played a few new songs from his new EP; Socially Inept which as a fan I obviously purchased. He also di his usual thing of sampling his own sound and vocals in order to provide backing for his songs. Is there anyone else about that can actually do this? Even if there are I doubt that they would be better than Mr Slapped. he even expanded his sound on a couple of songs by using a guitar. Perhaps the next EP will be ‘Man Is Slapped Goes Punk’? He also played a brief electro interlude advertising his web presence and CD for sale. He should be much, much bigger, make it so dear readers! Check him out on MySpace here and also on YouTube here.

Wolf Gang - but this is clearly not a lion and it's clearly not in a cage!

Finally it was the turn of the headliners, I must confess that until tonight I had never heard them and whilst Detronik and Man Is Slapped were excellent I think Wolf Gang surpassed them. They were truly stupendous and excellent band, especially the drummer. The vocalist was also very, very good. The blurb on the gig poster suggests that they go some way to mashing together Talking Heads and Empire Of The Sun. I wouldn’t disagree with this but I would also add that there was an element of early Simple Minds in there too, back in the days when Jim Kerr‘s boys were actually good. I would certainly pay to see this band again and if they’re playing near you it would be foolish and negligent of you to miss them. The next couple of weeks will see them play Glasgow, Sheffield, Brighton, Birmingham, Southampton, London, Bristol and Manchester. I hope they play at the Reading Festival next year. They finished their set with their new single “Lions In Cages” which is released on 22nd November, buy it and make them a happy band. Then they will then be just like me for I went home a happy man! Check them out on MySpace by clicking here and their own website by clicking here and then enjoy a couple more Wolf Gang videos below;


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