In the section Nostalgia Tracks, team members discuss their favorite songs, ones that they have a deep connection with. In this installment, contributing writer Danny Dyer discusses Slothrust and modern grunge.
Let’s make one thing as clear as crystalline window panes: Grunge is dead. Not hibernating. Not unconscious, nor concussed. I’m talking flat-lined. Pulseless. Toe-tagged and autopsied. Dead.
Or, at least that’s what I thought.
I have recently stumbled upon fresh, promising data, and would like to inform all ’90s enthusiasts, from Smashing Pumpkins Purists to Pearl Jam Practitioners, that Grunge, once more, breathes life. Our heroes, the trio holding the defibrillators, go by the name Slothrust.
I was driving my car the first time my eardrums absorbed the raw, unfiltered serenades of the Boston-based grunge revivalists. Rain pelted the roof of my Mustang in a watery rhythm. Plumes of morning fog lazily dangled above the street’s asphalt. My fingers bit down into the steering wheel, suffocating the leather on each winding turn. And then, like a heavenly light punching through the overcast, Spotify graced me with a song I had not heard before, as “Crockpot” trickled out of my stereo. Lead vocalist Leah Wellbaum crooned the opening with a ghostly eeriness, like a wing-clipped angel howling away her sorrows amongst the damned and forgotten. And as if induced by melodic hypnotism, I found myself pulled over on the shoulder of the road, ignition off, volume up.
Some men purchase real dolls
to fill the void
But she don’t finish dinner
And her expression never changes
Don’t shake hands with the lonely kids
‘cause I hear that shit’s contagious
Listen: “Crockpot” – Slothrust
But I heard more than just Wellbaum’s echoes. I heard a bubbling pain. I heard an unashamed nakedness. I heard a song attempt to be more than just a song, but a fleeting sensation. With this 2013 standout from their sophomore album Of Course You Do, Slothrust dresses up the torments of inner-isolation with a darkly sophisticated lyrical wardrobe. Wellbaum’s personality practically spits you in the face with loogies of sass as she cries out such witty one-liners as, “I like cats, do you like cats? Of course you do, you sassy motherfucker.”
Guitars screeching in gritty octaves, drums blaring in spastic enrage, the band channels the pathos of loneliness with the kindred angst of their 90’s predecessors. They’re loud, hurt, angry, and aren’t ashamed to let everyone know. Impressive too is the group’s ability to never step on the toes of their forefathers. Instead, Slothrust tangos with the traditional workings of Grunge while scattering their own tinge of bluesy soul into the dance.
This uniqueness is apparent in the goth-ballad’s overall arrangement. Each verse dips into a melancholic lulling, only for a set of “YEAH! YEAH!”’s to ignite the chorus; a convulsive bout of chattering high-hats and molasses-thick guitar riffs colliding with each other head-on. It’s sort of like a grandiose poetry slam in the most talented cavern in Hell.
Building momentum off of this cleverly sculpted introductory verse (the lonely kids in school always did seem to be morbidly infectious) Slothrust only sinks its gnarled fangs deeper and deeper into the jugular of emotional-alienation.
I’m a devil
You’re a devil
We’re all devil’s, Mary
You love Satan
But you don’t know her
And sometimes she gets scary
Let’s be real, “Crockpot” is a song textured with so many gothic tenors and hellish nuances that Satan was bound to spring up somewhere. What really matters though is when you take a peek under the exterior of this closing stanza. Slothrust tugs at the biblical to lament in the grueling truth that humans can be pretty selfish creatures. Every so often, we’re all the devil. And because of this ugly fact we suffer, and we do so the worst way possible: alone. Lo and behold, we’re all as contaminated as the lonely kid’s we don’t shake hands with.
As the rain started to fall in heavier globs I realized I was entwined in a moment of coincidental beauty. A lonely, vapid drive, accompanied by a song spearheading the lonely and the vapid. The two couldn’t have aligned with more synchrony if Kurt Cobain himself peered through the cloud coverage and demanded them to get along.
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Slothrust © Ebru Yildriz