Anything with Brant Bjork’s name on it has gotta be good, right? When I heard that this local Toronto outfit travelled all the way down to the California desert to record two tracks at Bjork’s own studio, I was certainly impressed. Can’t say I’ve heard of Slow Death Lights before, but with Brant’s endorsement they’ve piqued my interest in their debut album before I even push play.
The album kicks off with “Velvet Rags,” with a riff that reminds me of QOTSA’s “Feel Good Hit of the Summer.” The chorus kinda feels a little flat, mind you. Feels like it’s missing something—like a hit of c-c-c-c-c-cocaine, perhaps? “City of Lights” reminds me of the post-grunge era of radio rock, with a vibe that recalls some of The Headstones or Collective Soul’s better tracks, albeit with a solid psychedelic guitar solo. “The Blood to Stone Me” is by far the longest track, just over five-and-a-half minutes, and is the first one I’d really call “stoner rock,” with a fuzz-laden riff that brings Truckfighters to mind, while “Watermill” weaves and wails like a cut offa Kyuss’ Sky Valley.
This is a very clean, polished effort, almost to its detriment. The thing about fuzz rock is that it’s supposed to sound fuzzy—while the guitar solo on “Dirty Chores” really rips, the verses sound a little too clean, and the chorus too light for my tastes. “Ironwood Trees” has a big, crunchy, 70’s-style riff that has me thinking of BOC’s “Godzilla,” but the vocals seem a little weak. Would I enjoy this stuff if it came on the radio? Yeah, probably. But it’s not the first thing I’d reach for when cruising down the desert highway—put it that way.