Released: 2010, Waterlow Audio Recordings
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Hailing from Grand Forks, British Columbia is Slagduster, an upstart quartet currently supporting their debut release, NATURE.HUMANITY.MACHINE. The band’s website touts the band’s style as “bone-crushing yet intricately detailed, thought-provoking music,” but the ten songs that make up the album apparently didn’t get that message. There are some good ideas at the core of NATURE.HUMANITY.MACHINE, but they ultimately get lost in a puree of metalcore breakdowns and deadpan grunts.
Musically the band sounds like they’re trying to cover a lot of territory, which causes some identity crises. There’s lots of sharp heavy guitar work, interspersed with doses of melodic bounce which are buoyed by a machine like back end rhythm section. There’s some definite metalcore/screamo influences here, but the band tries to mix up the recipe in each track to keep things interesting. But any points that the band earns musically gets revoked as soon as vocalist Shane Sherman opens his mouth. He’s got a colorless death grunt that does absolutely nothing for the band’s overall sound, and it’s the same “blah” delivery song after song after song. Which is a shame, because it’s a total distraction from everything else going on. And then there’s the breakdowns. Ohhhh, the breakdowns. This is a trend that just needs to stop. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a time when breakdowns were a signature for “heavy” and were fresh. Now it just sounds cheap, boring, and way too overdone. Slagduster slips into breakdown mode way to often on way to many tracks, and again, it takes away from the moments where the band shows promise.
But credit where credit is due, and there are some high points on NATURE.HUMANITY.MACHINE. Songs like “Feral Children” and “View Erased” show Slagduster at their best, as they manage to retain the spirit and tone of what they’re trying to express, but in a much more focused and condensed manner. According to the band’s website, Slagduster’s only been together for a little over a year at this point which explains why the album sounds like a band trying to figure itself out. I’d be curious to hear how Slagduster develops going forward, but with so many bands across the scene vying for your attention, NATURE.HUMANITY.MACHINE is a tough sell.