Talbot – Magnetism (2018) REVIEW

Despite how much any unemployed pop culture historian argues for the validity and importance of various niche genre explosions in the 90’s few actually pan out statistically, in terms of sales and persistent influence, more than the descent of industrial music into rock, metal, and beyond. It sold well, became cultural phenomena, and amplified voices of alienation on a mainstream level far longer than pop music’s most visible affairs with punk or heavy metal. Growing up surrounded by my sibling’s Ministry, Godflesh, and Type-O-Negative records it was impossible to shrug off the palatable, ‘ethereal’ heaviness achieved but by the end of the decade little felt sincere about industrial metal’s influence upon alternative metal, or rock music. Tallinn, Estonia based alt-sludge diviners Talbot almost feel like kin of the same era as they dig through choice progressive sludge and alternative metal influences in forming their own curiously nostalgic take on modern sludge.

There is a twenty year blur upon the face of sludge metal as different innovations and micro-trends create strip-mined, faceless collages of influence parading around as bands and institutions. That is to say that sludge is a transformative being that finds young musicians learning from their peers and, if they’re lucky, finding a voice of their own after a handful of releases. By contrast it seems Talbot had their stylistic concept figured out early on but took a few attempts to refine their execution. The chugging doom and despair of their debut EP ‘Tundra’ (2008) was surely amateur but with some Electric Wizardry and a new, glossy bass tone their debut full-length ‘EOS’ (2010) found the duo exploring impressive psychedelia-swamped melody and growling doom alike. With ‘Scaled’ (2013) came further refinement and some separation from Ufomammut and Yob comparisons. Five years later their third album ‘Magnetism’ sees the band heavier, catchier, and a seeming lifetime removed from their beginnings.

Equal parts ‘Selfless’-era Godflesh, early Filter, and a twist of Killing Joke seep into a mountain of bass heavy, atmospheric sludge with the progressive ease of later Alchemist (see: ‘Organasm’) and lustrous Sabbath-synth of Type-O-Negative. It is a fully baked sound that is awfully heavy yet meticulously written. I’m sure I reference Floor in every bass driven sludge rock album but here I think the sound, and the songwriting, make it a viable comparison. The somewhat unexpected prominence of Talbot‘s alt-metal side is likely due to the original line-up of the duo severing in 2013 and Russian drummer Evgeniy Mikhaylov joining Magnus Andre (bass, synth, vocals) in 2014. In taking their time to both synergize together and compose ‘Magnetism’ Talbot arrives at a higher level of professionalism and what I’d consider the ‘right’ way to do an accessible, but well-balanced sludge album.

‘Magnetism’ almost rode in and out of my rotation solely on the merits of it’s polished production and lushly rendered basslines. I went back in for many of my listens for the late 90’s feeling of it all as industrial rock, alternative metal, and psychedelic sludge collide into something strangely nostalgic. So, I’m curious if the album will have some greater appeal and resonance with other folks who became teenaged in the 90’s. If I’m able to divorce myself from my own nostalgia it is simply a heavy, well-written psychedelic sludge rock album driven by a tight bass and drum duo. “Feral” is the ultimate ‘hook’ on the album showcasing the versatility of Talbot‘s intentions but the hints of ‘Psalm 69’ and ‘Selfless’ on the title track initially drew me in for deeper listens. For preview I would wholly recommend starting with “Infra” just to get a big riff up front and circle around to “Magnetism” and “Feral” for a full listen.

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Artist Talbot
Type Album
Released March 27, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Talbot’s Bandcamp! Follow Talbot on Facebook
Genres
Sludge Metal, 
Alternative Metal,

Pointing to the sky, high. 3.25/5.0

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