With aggressive growled vocals courtesy of Ben Chapman-Smith and Sabbathian psych-addled, stoner-doom riffs, Canada’s Slowpoke initially appear to have more in common with the UK’s Raging Speedhorn or Desert Storm than they do the likes of Kyuss etc. Or, at least that’s what opening track “Stony Iommi” will have you believe (bravo lads, the song title of the year award has your name written all over it); a ballsy 9 minute-er that thunders through gut-rumbling stoner riffs, spacey vibes and throat-savaging utterances.
However, Slowpoke are a naughty bunch of bastards and they gleefully sweep the rug out from under you as soon as the more traditional tones of “Slumlord” enter the fray. Growls are initially swapped for clean vocals and all seems satisfyingly ‘stoner’ again. That is until Chapman-Smith again hacks up a lung and flips between the ‘cleans’ and growls throughout the remainder of the song. Jaunty ol’ “Sid the Cat” then goes all Clutch / Down on our collective asses, with Southern-fried groove and yet another vocal style (Neil Fallon meets Phil Anselmo obvs) again throwing us a curve ball.
And herein lies the problem.
Slowpoke are every beloved stoner/doom band rolled into one but the lack of a cohesive identity proves ultimately distracting. It doesn’t distract from the enjoyment per se – there are some great songs here – but you can’t help but wish they’d settle on a sound instead of ably mimicking the greats of the sub-genre. The electrifying 3 minutes of “Slumlord” is a quick-fire highlight and when Slowpoke do go full-on sludgy/doom on “Slowpoke” there’s ample evidence that this is a band who can compete with the best of ‘em.
As rewarding as it is frustrating, Slowpoke’s self-titled debut is an album that’s crying out for direction….but it’s an interesting and fun listen nonetheless. 6/10
Slowpoke was self-released on 22nd August 2021. Nip over to bandcamp and grab a copy!