Sofa King Killer – Midnight Magic – 3.5/5
I’ve always considered that in order to be a ‘perfect’ sludge band, rather than be the most original (the genre has been consistent for a number of years, but not perhaps the most inventive) you must satisfy two conditions. You need to have a big loud bass, creating a thick tone that envelops you in a wall of sound, and you need to have a certain insatiable groove that keeps you hooked. With a strong southern rock twang about them, some of the grooves that are presented in this album go up there amongst the best; aggressive, yet simple and often mid-paced magic.
Sadly, whilst the grooves are insatiable, they are the main stand-out in this album. The bass is prominent but altogether clouded in the back, and whilst he does his duties in thickening the tone, at no point does he truly create a barrage of bass the music could have desperately used. The drumming is basic, and often seems to struggle to find creative means to perform, abusing the cymbals all too often, he is left in the back, and without a bite he feels all too harmless. The vocals have a hoarse yell to them, but as with the drums, feel too far back in the production to deliver their impact.
The result of all this is that the album becomes very guitar orientated, and whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – the riffs are nicely varied throughout and never really falter – it results in the whole piece becoming a blur. Too easily does the album pass you by without you realising; there isn’t enough of a change in the tone to snap your attention back into focus. Instead you get a piece that is consistently good, with little standing out as being good or bad. They have stayed well within their comfort zone for this debut effort.
You can enter the album at any point and find a bass-laden southern groove to nod your head to in appreciation, with layers of mid-tempo guitar rhythms galore; it’s certainly a fine short-term fix, but ultimately lacking that long term appeal. The entire release is like a lion without its fangs, slowly strutting its stuff before kicking into action; the vocals will howl at you, and this kitten has some powerful claws, but it’s lacking that bite needed to finish it off. Altogether it’s a promising debut from an artist struggling to find their feet, and hopefully they’ll get the opportunity to prove they can distinguish themselves from the pack.