[11th February 2014]
01. Once and For All
03. It’s All About Love
05. Take Stock
06. Shadow Dancers
Upon first listen to French sludge-rock outfit Drawers‘ sophomore self-titled album, the immediate aural registration of something familiar kicks in – that little spark of excitement brought about by something special. With the glut of listening choices available in 2014, its a breath of fresh air to find a record that makes an instant impact, and holds that feeling for thirty-plus minutes without the need to skip a track, or without the presence of ‘filler’ tracks or interludes.
Drawers are somewhat of a hybrid of Mastodon and Baroness, but so much more than that. Far more than a stop-gap until both previously mentioned bands release new material, and far more than a clone that will be forgotten after 2 or 3 listens, Drawers have crafted an album of substance here.
The eight tracks on offer are filled to the brim with dual guitar harmonies, driving drum patterns accompanied perfectly by gritty bass runs and honest, emotive, (in the best sense of the word) and passionately delivered vocals. Nothing feels forced, and riff after glorious riff is delivered with earnest. There’s no rush at all, and no sense of anything overstaying its welcome.
The mix is sludgy yet clear. The rhythm section has plenty of room to breathe, and as such the bottom end that is so often missing in metal these days is delightfully present. Intelligent songwriting allows the bass and drums the freedom to follow the guitars when needed, but more pleasingly to meander off on their own as well, all the while holding everything tightly in place.
Abound are some fantastic guitar harmonies – the 2-pronged attack of Alexander Berenguer and Laurent Bringer weave around each other sublimely.There’s no need to shower us with over-the-top guitar-wankery; every note and riff is so well placed that extended solos would feel out of place and unnatural.
The fact that the album was recorded live makes this all the more impressive, and confirms that the studio trickery so often employed in metal these days is well and truly absent from this recording, thankfully. These songs benefit immensely from this approach to recording. There’s a genuine sense of integrity present throughout the songs because of it, and as such, a fluidity to the album that is refreshing to hear. Where some bands might sound a tad sloppy if recorded live, Drawers manage to keep everything right in the pocket and right on the groove.
Vocalist Niko Bastide doesn’t overstep his mark. His growl/snarl approach has a certain swagger to it, as if he’s in that zone between having a few and had a few too many drinks. There’s a confidence in his voice that suits the music perfectly. No auto-tune on his cleans, plenty of grit in his heavy approach, an honest performance that binds the band tightly.
Drawers is a crushingly solid record that delivers from start to finish. An effortless and exceedingly enjoyable metal record that deserves to be heard by any and all fans of heavy music. With their impressive 2011 debut All Is One and now an excellent follow-up record, Drawers are building a solid catalogue of sludge-tinged modern metal, and are definitely a band to watch in the near future.