South London masters of doom Slabdragger are releasing their new album Rise Of The Dawncrusher on Holy Roar Records on February 26 and we’re streaming it right now for you lucky bastards.
Densely packed lyrically and musically, Rise Of The Dawncrusher is perhaps best described as a sci-fi odyssey of galaxy-sized riffs and stoner sludge. We caught up with bassist and vocalist Yusuf Tary to talk about the new album…
You’re back with a new album after five years, what’s been going on in that time?
“Quite a bit, actually. Since Regress we have been through two drummers, we released a split 12” with Jack’s (Newnham, drummer) band, Meadows in 2012. We have also been playing lots of shows including Desertfest and Temples, support slots with High On Fire and Eyehategod etc. Sam (Thredder, guitar) got ill with a collapsed lung, which put him out for a while. We also ran into recording problems when trying to record Rise Of The Dawncrusher. All this and general life stuff. Nothing is ever simple, but then some of the best art comes from some kind of struggle.”
What is The Dawncrusher?
“The Dawncrusher is a giant, 5000 mile wide spaceship with a huge drill at the front capable of drilling into planets and extracting the magma from the core for resources. Within the story, which takes place around three mercenaries (us), they are forced to pilot it into planet Earth in order to extract Earth’s magma for Lord Tyraas, an intergalactic mob boss who has many fingers in many pies around the galaxy. He reveals to the mercenaries that he is from an ancient race of people, and his ancestors built it in order to execute armageddon on Earth by draining it of its core. The magma would then be used to fuel his gigantic army to begin taking over the galaxy.”
Where did the sci-fi concept for the record come from? Are there any particular literary influences?
“Sam and I were hanging out one day, and we began to discuss what we would do for this record. I figured that Regress had a very ‘earthy’ feel to it that you experience within the lyrics, the sounds and the artwork. Lots of mountains, seas, deserts etc. So I suggested we write a space album. Space and doom/stoner/whatever music go well together. Sam came up with the idea of writing an album that describes the journey of what it would be like to go through the Earth, through the centre and back out the other side, back into space. After a while this idea turned into a full on sci-fi adventure story with a plot and characters. We always imagined it would be something like a cross between the film, Heavy Metal and the comic, The Incal. Something very dark and gritty but also quite psychedelic and beautiful.”
Describe the journey Rise Of The Dawncrusher takes the listener on.
“Musically we wanted to try many different things, things we had not really tried with our previous material. We all listen to lots of different types of music and inspiration can come from just about anywhere. Mercenary Blues starts off with a bluesy/doomy riff and quickly evolves into some sledgehammering before going into a crusty death metal riff and ending with an odd-timed, old school classic rock style riff. Basically, the whole album goes through many twists and turns like this. Vocally, I wanted to try different things. I saw it as wanting to create characters from the story, so we tried many different voices on different parts. There is a fair bit of clean singing and harmonies and lots of brutal vocals as well.
What gets you in the mindset for creating such murky, doomy music?
“Nothing really gets us in the mindset, we just really love writing crushingly heavy music. I suppose our environment has it’s influence. Sam and I are from Croydon: home of the Nestle building and violent, drunken Friday night ‘lad’ type pricks. I’m not saying everyone in Croydon is like that because I have many friends here, but we live in a regressive culture of superficiality and pissing it up at the weekend. We have never been about that. Making music is not just a passion but also a vital escape from the endless drudgery of the 9-5 lifestyle.”
Evacuate stands out as something much more frenzied and erratic compared to the rest of the record, was the juxtaposition intentional?
“Yes. We wanted to write one short song to add variety to this record. I feel this song adds a sense of needed urgency to the part of the record where the story starts to pick up the pace. We are as much inspired by hardcore punk as we are sludge, death metal and everything else we listen to, so we made sure that this influence was present.”
You’re playing the Holy Roar 10th birthday party in May, do you have any surprises in store?
“We may or may not throw in a new cover we have been working on. We shall see…”
Rise Of The Dawncrusher is out February 26 via Holy Roar Records.