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Slurr - "The Plains EP" (CD/EP)

Slurr - "The Plains EP" CD/EP cover image

"The Plains EP" track listing:

1. Ceding Proteus
2. Puke Party Cowboy
3. Binary Fission
4. Theory of Everything

Reviewed by on May 21, 2012

"...Slurr combines the muscle of Mastodon, the melodic groove of Clutch and the hard rocking swagger of hometown heroes The Sword."

Beards are in abundance in Austin, Texas. The bald head, big belly, long beard look is about as common in the Lone Star State capital as traffic jams. Short on top and long in the front is a type of modern, reverse mullet. This look is firmly embedded in many of the town’s bands and the acts that inspire them, so much that if you see a bunch of dudes on stage sporting this look, they probably share a similar sound.

Newcomers Slurr possess this look and this sound. On their debut recording, “The Plains EP,” Slurr combines the muscle of Mastodon, the melodic groove of Clutch and the hard rocking swagger of hometown heroes The Sword. Whether the facial hair enhanced their playing is questionable, but the group wears it well. Vocalist/guitarist Ben Jansen sports the look, as does producer and mixer Chuck Loesch, whose glorious beard may lead to feelings of inadequacy for other males around town (it’s not the size…). Loesch is a prominent figure in the area metal scene, operating and disc-jockeying radio station 101X’s metal program “No Control Radio.” Loesch’s mix shows each instrument receiving an equal treating.

Drums and guitar move succinctly on this four-song EP. The twin guitar tandem of Jansen and Mark Milot creates a full-bodied sound. The two initiate “Binary Fission” with galloping, hammer-on string play, which drummer Brian Reed cohesively follows, including the hard breaks. Asphalt-laden, steam-rolling riffing animates “Ceding Proteus,” while lighter, hanging notes provide a brief change-up reminiscent of The Sword’s arrangements. “Puke Party Cowboy” shows a greater reliance on these melodious, hanging chords. No automatic shifting here; it’s all Clutch. These mentioned parts mostly construct a heavy bridge to vocal passages and chorus lines. In the case of “Puke Party Cowboy,” the group provides an instrumental glimpse into the vocal hook.

“The Plains EP” is mostly a pleasant listen. The album sounds great, is tight, and has plenty of memorable rhythms. Jansen possesses a catchy cadence in his vocal delivery. He’s a bit gruff, but still maintains a sense of harmony. However, Jansen’s vocals are the album’s weakest link. Even though he takes a singing approach (no growling here), his words are often hard to understand. If we look at the band’s career in terms of beard length, Slurr is only in the goatee stage. Expect full facial hair on their next recording.

Highs: Twin guitar harmonies and tight drum/guitar interplay.

Lows: One needs to listen carefully to decipher Jansen's lyrics.

Bottom line: A decent debut for fans of bearded, heavy rock.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)