SLAM – The Rust EP

Although Slam is hardly an original name for a band, it kind of suits this South Carolina five-piece’s approach.  Combining the twin guitar attack of Paul Glover and Ryan Kellett, the growling voice of Anthony Trapani and a hard hitting rhythm section in Aaron Patterson and Bob Dunaway (bass and drums, respectively), this EP has a professional sound – and fantastic production values – for a self-released recording.

The title cut chugs along like a musical juggernaut under the weight and drive of Patterson’s down-tuned bass.  When combined with the dual guitars, Slam’s fairly unrelenting delivery can be heard in good form.  The vocals are of a standard hardcore metal variety, but Trapani favours a clean and fairly clear delivery, allowing the lyrics to be heard – something which stands very much in Slam’s favour.  While the sound is decent, though, the song itself doesn’t have the huge hook it really requires.  The stab at a chorus is not great especially, but still manages to be okay; in order to properly stand out, it really could’ve done with something extra.  ‘Misery Machine’ is faster and slightly heavier – the rumble and chug of the opener being taken to a new level.   A more memorable chorus also shows Slam in a more accomplished light than before.  The overriding sound highlights influences from early Machine Head (in the heaviness) and Prong (in the shouty vocal delivery) alongside other late eighties/early nineties hardcore metal bands.  While, once again, Slam haven’t done much to make that sound their own, their end performance is more than commendable – particularly Dunaway’s bass drum work and the couple of riffs giving the nod to classic eighties Bay Area thrash.

‘Seasoned’ combines more heavy riffs and shouting vocals, but on this track, Slam really hit their stride.  The fast parts of this number allow Bob Dunaway to show off his skills once again, his double bass drum work recalling lots of classic thrash/hardcore metal from the late 80s.  This is the track which shows Slam at their most well-rounded: the slow parts show are more melodic than previous tracks, while the fast parts show an almost faultless level of tightness on part of the rhythm section.   Slowing things down again, the closing number, ‘Knife’ employs a chugging riff which although powerful, doesn’t build much upon its initial promise.  Vocally, Trepani gets an opportunity to stretch out from his usual hardcore approach, but when slotted in as a countermelody with the slow riff midway, his more melodic “oohs” have the air of an afterthought.

On the basis of this EP, Slam’s sound is about as original as their choice of moniker, but even so, they’re tight enough – and more than heavy enough – to make this style work for them.  With regards to showing their influences so obviously, at least they’ve clearly learnt from some of the best.  ‘The Rust EP’ showcases the work of a good, solid metal band.  If they can throw a little more of their own style into the mix and bring more focus to their song writing, they have the potential to take things to the next level.

January 2011