SLIFT: ILION [Album Review]

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Sub Pop Records [2024]

Album Overview: The French trio SLIFT presents ILION, a sonic behemoth reminiscent of a distant wave growing in intensity as it approaches. This marks the band’s third full-length album, following their 2020 release, UMMON, which secured the top spot in TFN’s Top 50 that year. ILION continues the relentless exploration of themes surrounding the decline of humanity and the cyclical renewal of all things in the vast expanse of time and space. Drawing inspiration from the Ancient Greek word for the city of Troy, the album encapsulates an immersive musical journey.

Musical Style: ILION signifies a new frontier in space rock for SLIFT, blending the fierce intensity of metal with the mesmerizing guitar heroics of psych-rock and the grand scale characteristic of post-rock. Laden with heavy stoner rock, strategically impactful psych-metal, futuristic prog, and a spiraling mix of psychedelia, the band’s sound is defined by cascading walls of guitar, intricate song structures, and a densely melodic approach.

Evolution of Sound: SLIFT’s musical evolution unfolds across their previous releases. Their debut EP, Space Is the Key (2017), fused stoner rock with garage rock. The subsequent full-length, La Planet√© Inexplore√©, experimented with faster tempos and introduced bongos. In 2020, UMMON marked a shift towards space, embracing cosmic jazz psych-metal and setting the stage for the expansive and propulsive sound of ILION, characterized by an even greater sense of vastness and exploration.

Artists with Similar Fire: SLIFT’s sonic landscape resonates with the tones of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, incorporating the metallic essence akin to Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. Their music features robust guitar elements reminiscent of Elder while infusing a psychedelic swirl akin to Swedish experimental greats Goat.

Pivotal Tracks: Comprising eight tracks spanning 80 minutes, ILION includes standout moments such as the over 11-minute opening title track, setting the album’s tone with majestic force. “Nimh” captivates with a roaring first half before seamlessly transitioning and finishing with a trance-inducing reality distortion. The 12-and-a-half-minute “The Story That Has Never Been Told” reaches an intense climax, showcasing SLIFT’s affinity seamless tempo shits and love for extended jams.

Lyrical Strength: The lyrical theme of ILION unfolds as a Homeric narrative, depicting the decline of humanity and the subsequent rebirth of all things in the vastness of time and space. Exploring human emotions and feelings, the album distinguishes itself from its predecessor, UMMON. SLIFT masterfully balances lyrical depth within the expansive runtime, ensuring that the lyrics enhance rather than overshadow the album’s monumental presence.

Ummon (2020)

Follow SLIFT:
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram

Christopher Anthony
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