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El Sledge+ - 2009 - "Fletcher’s Last Night"

(21:02 EP, ‘Airaid’)


“Fletcher’s Last Night”, the 21-minute EP by the US outfit EL SLEDGE+, arrived without any supporting material, so I have no idea whether this is its first release or not. I only know it is a duo, featuring Stephen Stroka on drums and Matthew Graboski on guitar, guitar-synth and vocals. There are seven tracks here, all featuring vocals with lyrics, albeit three of them are one-minute cuts, sounding like semi-embryonic versions of some of the longer ones. The piece that opens the record is a faster version of classic Doom Metal (which, whether wrongly or not, I used to call Cathedral Metal: an approach invented by the genre’s Godfathers themselves, Black Sabbath, back in 1971). The singing, however, is screaming (a product of Black Metal, it was for the first time used by Bathory on their self-titled 1984 debut release), and is pretty weak, as well as all the other vocals, which are in turn delivered in a traditional rock manner, at least for the most part. The second track suggests something very similar in style, although the guitar riffs, while still dark, are never really heavy, strongly lacking in ‘meatiness’ and aggressiveness as well. The remaining two pieces are both hard-rockers which, yet, just cry for energy, suffering from the same problem. The point is that this is a live album and sounds raw, devoid of any overdubs. There are some interesting ideas on each of the longer tracks, but they are buried under the poor sound, and I have no desire to dig them out of there, since their authors themselves weren’t interested in unveiling them. They didn’t care to improve the recording by mixing it in the studio. Instead, they have issued it as it is.

Vitaly Menshikov: September 15, 2012

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