Multi-instrumentalist, Ryan Parrish, keeps strange company, in all the best ways. For Slow Burning Rage, the Bleach Everything/Iron Reagan drummer has assembled a ragtag mob of members of Inter Arma, Municipal Waste, Avail, Darkest Hour, Windhand, and Interstitia to fuse together eight tracks of brutal sludge, thunderous rhythms, and dissonant free jazz.
Slow Burning Rage is not a solo album – it’s an aural mood board or a sonic buffet. You’ll soon learn this when you listen to ‘Agonal Gasp’. It’s an ear-splitting racket, but there’s musicality here – the noise is not random. Stick through it, and there’s immediate reward from ‘The Slow Burn of Madmartigan’. This one’s a pulsing, clattering, gritty dirge punctuated with barely audible screams. It’s gothic in the Bauhaus sense, with the grubby, sweaty vibe of a Camden dive bar back when everybody smoked.
‘El Tio (Curse of the Caves)’ continues the languid pace, but its atmosphere is dreamy and sultry, like a saloon bar in the summer heat: gently plucked and gliding guitar strings shimmer with reverberation; the drums are simple, but insistent. Then we get to ‘A.L.A.S’. This wafts in, all muted pads and distant strums like a sci-fi soundtrack – part Blade Runner, part Interstellar – its soft tones seem to seep around the room and up the walls. Eventually, the rumbling percussion rolls in like waves churning up pebbles on the shore.
The eclecticism is easier to absorb on this record than it ought to be. ‘Scaphism (Two Boats)’ is oppressive white noise, followed by oppressive jazz drumming and oppressive bass distortion. Yet the soft, open textures of ‘Transcience’ offer welcome respite. ‘Dark Thunder…’ assembles an enormous cast to pound out its tribal percussion: Robley Ball, TJ Childress, Alex Copeland, Bram Crowe-Getty, Richard Gibson, Jason Hodges, Erik Josephson, Erik Larson, Jon Rice, Johnny Ward, Brandon Whittaker, Dave Witte, and Ryan Wolfe clatter away, but – while the aural anger builds – they keep the furious pummelling behind a keyboard cloud. The soaring, shimmering electronics fade until closing track ‘…Crystal Nebula’ flutters in. Marie Gist’s gentle harp strums twinkle over waves of vague ‘80s synths. It peters out before doing much.
Thus, Slow Burning Rage ends as uncomfortably as it begins: defying expectations, unsettling the listener, and managing to entertain despite the absence of vocals. It’s never quite satisfying, but never less than intriguing, combining ugly dissonance with moments of ethereal beauty. A strange curation, but one that will leave you eager for more.
Release Date: 17/12/2021
Record Label: Pax Aeternum
Standout tracks: The Slow Burn of Madmartigan, El Tio (Curse of the Caves), A.L.A.S.
Suggested Further Listening: Queenadreena – Taxidermy (2000), Guapo – Obscure Knowledge (2015), Vangelis – Blade Runner OST (1982)