Much like the creature that forms half of their name, Sweden’s Snailking’s debut album Samsara moves at a steady and methodical pace. No surprises then that this is a sludge ridden doom album and what’s more, one of the year’s best. With just three tracks, with some obvious influences making their presence felt, Samsara unfurls some serious heaviness in their slow, creeping riffs and bellowing vocals.
You can tick off Sleep and Electric Wizard for homage on this album for sure. The thick, vibrating walls of sound are nothing but imposing but at the same time there are still buckets of melody at play with these three protracted dirges. In fact, first song ‘Shelter’ creeps along with a riff that isn’t a million miles removed from the likes of Pelican’s earlier material, all the while still reverberating with an eerie presence. Following a brief spoken word passage, ‘Shelter’ slowly walks us into a misty abyss, augmenting in density, until we’re met by the cavernous vocals that roar from the harrowing depths. Eventually the song ups the pace to reckless levels to round off the 14 minute sludge journey in style.
It’s fair to say that at this point Snailking have made their modus operandi quite clear and ‘In The Wake’ continues the trek, which doesn’t take as long to really get going and is a little more dominated by the vocals, maintaining a steady pace once again until the song’s closing moments where they shamelessly reel things in to a trudging slog.
The title track then brings this three song affair to a momentous close. Some of the album’s best crunching riffs are in tow here with the vocals bellowing the loudest, being a total clarion call for the album. While the album’s prior tracks are heady doses of sludge, they are effortlessly obliterated by the sheer vim of the title track. It gathers the band’s heaviness and pacey tendencies to near-flawless effect – a real triumph of a song, emblematic of the whole album.