Fri, Jan 19, 2024 at 7:00 AM
SLIFT’s ILION is a towering work of rock music, a steamrolling record that starts at the highest peak and never lets up. If that sounds overwhelming, trust that this Toulouse trio have you in good hands. Their third full-length feels massive and oceanic, merging the furious intensity of metal and the wigged-out guitar heroics of psych rock with post-rock’s epic sense of scale. ILION is the kind of music where you listen to it and think to yourself, “This came from only three people?” It sure did, and SLIFT’s utter ferocity is way more than a tempest in a teacup. It reaches outwards for miles and creates new zeniths within unforeseen horizons of rock.
SLIFT is made up of brothers Jean and Remí Fossat and Canek Flores, who first met the brothers Fossat at (of all things) school. After the band formally came together in 2016, they quickly made their 2017 debut EP, Space Is the Key, which merged stoner rock’s heaviness with the sugar-rush qualities of garage rock. From there, things only got weirder: The trio experimented with faster tempos and bongos(!) on the following year’s full-length La Planeté Inexploreé, and in 2019, their KEXP session recorded at the Trans Musicales festival in Rennes became a viral sensation, racking up more than 1.4 million YouTube views.
UMMON from 2020 represented SLIFT’s pivot towards the celestially crushing confines of psych-metal, marked by Remí’s rolling basslines and Flores’s relentless skin-pounding. But nothing in their already-estimable catalog could prepare you for ILION, a huge-sounding and melodically dense record that at once recalls Godspeed! You Black Emperor’s perpetually uplifting surge, the passionate burn of post-hardcore legends …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Led Zep’s psychotic blues-rock mysticism, and the psychedelic swirl of Swedish experimental greats Goat.
But reducing ILION to a list of reference points would be missing the point—specifically, that you really have to sit down and experience this thing and let it take over your ear space. The record marks the band’s second Sub Pop release, following last year’s Singles Club 7” release of “Unseen” b/w “The Real Unseen,” which were outtakes from the UMMON sessions and offered a mere taste of the pure expansiveness on display here. Over eight tracks and 75+ minutes, SLIFT unleash the fury with walls of guitar and multi-part song structures that make you feel as if you’re being taken on a true journey—from the pure oblivion of ILION’s title track and the stretched-out abandon of centerpiece “Weavers’ Weft” to the intense climax of the 12-and-a-half-minute epic “The Story That Has Never Been Told.”
But what is this journey? To hear SLIFT tell it, Joseph Campbell would be proud of the thematic path laid out before the listeners on ILION, which is named after the Ancient Greek word for the city of Troy and, conceptually speaking, picks up where UMMON left off: “This is an album constructed in the manner of a Homeric story,” the band explains. “Where the two records differ is that ILION is about human emotions and feelings, whereas UMMON was telling an epic story with a distant view. ILION represents the fall of humanity and the rebirth of all things in time and space.”
Heavy shit, to be sure—but fear not, because you don’t need a 12-sided die and a copy of The Odyssey to get what SLIFT are dishing out on ILION. All you need are two ears, an open mind, and the willingness to be truly blown away.
Thu, Jan 4, 2024 at 7:00 AM
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