Saturday 12 September 2015

Snail - Feral (Album Review)

Release date: September 25th 2015. Label: Small Stone Recordings . Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

Feral: Tracklisting

1.Building A Haunted House
2.Smoke The Deathless
3.A Mustard Seed
4.Thou Art That
5.Born In Captivity
8.Come Home

Band Members:

Mark Johnson, Matt Lynch, Marty Dodson


It's hard to believe that Seattle Psych Stoners – Snail – have been going as a band for 23 years now. OK they had a break between 1995 and 2008. Since then they’ve released two acclaimed albums - Blood and Terminus. Both excellent albums showing that Snail had not lost their magic touch for creating magical trippy psychedelic anthems with a heavy dash of Stoner Metal riffian based madness.

Now Snail return with their new album – Feral – and it’s perhaps their darkest and most surreal offering yet. The album still sees Snail create heavy psych stoner riffs but a sense of darkness has been added to the mix. Feral is a fantastic sounding album from start to finish it maybe too dark for some long-time Snail fans. It’s good when a band attempts something different to their last release and Feral is Snail in full-on experimental mode.

Opening track – Building A Haunted House – is a psychedelic experience with Snail creating different noises and fuzz based sounds for a creepy almost occult rock style affair. The vocals are pitch-perfect giving a sense of fear or dread of what is coming next. The lyrics are quite bleak but you can’t help be sucked in by it all as Snail make you welcome in their messed up little world. The riffs range from fuzzed up epic notes to the more delicately played slow-paced notes that linger in the darkness.

Second track – Smoke The Deathless – is driven by a funk bass guitar riff with old-school Snail showing up getting you into the mood with superb fuzz/down-tempo guitar riffs. Though it’s the funky bass guitar that keeps your attention and the grizzled vocals being played in the background. It’s a mixture of upbeat psych Stoner riffs with Snail’s bleak outlook on life. This song has the best of both worlds. For you doom and gloom maniacs it has the right amount of darkness to it whilst the Desert Rock/Fuzz Rock crew will enjoy being taken down memory lane where the music has a slight Kyuss/Fu Manchu influence.

Third track – A Mustard Seed – is one of the albums standout tracks as it’s a fuzzed up party atmosphere with Snail unleashing fast-paced riffs with a careless world weary attitude. The FUZZ is strong on this track with the dark psych stoner metal vibe giving way to a genuine sense of fun. This song surprised me as it shows Snail is not all about the darkness even if the lyrical content suggests otherwise. You’ll be rocking out to this tune over and over again as it’s one of the finest tracks that Snail has written in years.

Fourth track – Thou Art That – is the longest track on the album clocking in over 10 mins and is perhaps the most surreal and out-there song on the album. It’s a mixture of slow-paced doomy riffs that takes time for the atmosphere to get going but it’s still an addictive ride into Snail’s dark twisted world. The instrumental work is first class with the band paying homage to 60s/70s Psych Rock which allows Snail to play different instruments. Though it’s the heavy stoner noises that save the day.

The rest of the album carries on the superb and highly addictive atmosphere captured in the first four songs. Tracks such as Born In Captivity and Derail create an even heavier atmosphere though the vocals on Born In Captivity are a mixed bag. Some parts of the song I didn’t understand what was being said but the music is still undeniably catchy. Derail is perhaps the most psychedelic offering on the album.

The albums final two tracks – Psilocybe and Come Home – bring this trippy journey to its natural conclusion. Psilocybe is perhaps the albums heaviest track with the band creating a nightmarish experimental vibe that offers instances of long drawn out psychedelic riffs. It’s another standout track for you to immerse yourself with. Though it may take repeated listens to fully understand what’s going on. As Snail include a lot of different ideas that will confuse and delight you in equal measure.

Come Home ends Feral. It’s a blues rock based number and it’s one of the albums weakest tracks. It’s a loud fuzzy affair I just can’t see why the band chose this song to end the album with. I’m feeling they should have left this song off the album or closed with Psilocybe as it doesn’t end on a loud fnish as the album justly deserved. This is another great record from Snail as they embrace their roles as ringmasters of this demented trippy circus known as Feral. Yeah it’s trippy and very surreal at times but at least Snail are one of the true original bands living upto the Stoner Metal tag.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo. Feral will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl through Small Stone Recordings on September 25th 2015