Slowly Building Weapons – Sunbirds (2017)



Here’s the short version: blackened hardcore that grinds, blasts and surprises. A great mix of guitars and noise over a backdrop of live and noisy drums. Drums reign supreme in the mix and undergo a lot of different changes and sounds, while guitars thunder beside them bathed in sheer gain. What you don’t know however..until you dive in…is that there’s A LOT more going on beneath the surface. Post rock, ambience, shoegaze and more.

‘Throne’ opens the album with a blast and wash of guitars. The group stop suddenly..drop a straight up rock hammer and then proceed head long into doom territory. They slow right down and destroy the song they just built up and before too long some searing feedback/noise merges into the mix as the band almost collapse across the finish line.

Lyre Birds’ follows with a black metal ferocity that lasts an almost unbearable 50 seconds before they do the thing again… slow it down and bring doom.

The Sabbath-inspired mid section comes in just at the right time to keep from becoming too much as does the ‘oh no my speakers are broken’ effect from over clipping in the mix/mastering. It’s an inspired idea and one that shows they band have paid attention to detail despite the intentionally under-produced but still produced values. Just listen for it.. you’ll freak out.

The song ends in a gradual decomposition into melodic ambience for an outro that is complete with sound effects and whirly reverbs. It’s divine.

It’s clear by only two songs in, that Slowly Building Weapons excel in the art of gearing down from the blackened end of the spectrum through the hardcore mid shift into doom and getting bogged in sludge territory. The occasional lulls that come as part of a break down, transition, interlude etc are welcome moments and serve the songs well in delivering a bigger impact to the ‘full’ band sound when it comes back in.

I particularly enjoyed the post-metal jaunt in the second half of track 3 ‘Zoltar’ and the surprise appearance of sung/spoken vocals. It gets a bit ISIS and I really liked it!

‘Sunforest’ is a longer journey than the others..clocking in at 6 minutes. BUT… boy do they cover some new ground with this track. I had to check that itunes hadn’t actually skipped to another album for a second. (true story)

The space and ambience left in the mix allows for the drums to cut through and convey a sense of ‘being in the room’ with them. The guitars use different tones, cleans and verby sounds..vocals are clean and dripping in gated verbs. It’s post-rock and some. Melody and patient pacing make this a very rewarding listen that .. if not for the reminder on my screen as I listen.. I could easily believe this was a different band. The over compressed drums ring out into oblivion as and the subtle chimey guitars pick away into closing. What the hell is this band?

Sunbirds (title track) is another standout. The familiar abrasive blast/black metal greats you at the door..bass and guitars buzzing hard and drums follow suit 20 seconds in. Its intense yes..but by mid way the group have wound it back to a staggering, swaying post metal dirge without the metal. Overdriven bass thuds away and the keys/guitars interweave in a dance over the top. The largest appeal of a band like this is this insane ability to seamlessly flow from style to style within a single piece of music and manage to retain a sense of fluidity and relationship to it all. It’s juxtaposing yes..a little hard to get your head around at times..but go with it and you end up being able to see how it all fits together by the end.

I can’t say enough for the sheer depth and variety on display here. ‘Sunbirds’ is utterly devastating and yet soothes you in the aftermath.

I’m loving this album.


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