Snailking are of Sweden descent, and their Samsara album is a short album, with three songs clocking in at a few seconds over 35 minutes. I look at the track listings for each song and I’m excited: first track at 14 minutes, second track at 11 minutes, closing track at 9. I’m thinking excellent, but any band who is going to do it for those durations better come up with the goods. They very much do, but there was a process in getting there.
Samara opens up with “Shelter”, and the band gets into a grinding riff instantly, which takes a few bars to get through as it’s not just a simple 4-bar thing. There’s a slight twist in the arrangement, but it’s cool how they do it. The vocals do not kick in until much later and when it does, listeners might say “aaaaah, a bit of relief”. Musically, I had thought of a cross between Melvins and Monster Magnet, the kind of early 70’s progressive psychedelic heaviness mixed in with hard rock, heavy metal and a subtle-but-present blues influence that can’t be denied. It stays on that grinding pace for 8 1/2 minutes before the riff changes, and… maybe this is due to me listening to a lot of hard rock and heavy metal in my life but it sounds like that incredible metal gallop, the metaphorical vikings and horses, the chariots and everything are about to run up the hill for a fight/battle or victory dance, and you anticipate that feeling for a minutes with the help of a repetitive guitar and bass line. The drums kick in and it sounds incredible, and that helps to drive the song home for the next five minutes. Snailking then continue exploring various themes in their brand of sludgy stoner metal and it’s good, damn good. The Europeans know their metal well, and this sounds like something that was passed along as a folk tradition, and in their hands they are truly making music that moves at the pace of a snail, the monarchs.
One complaint I have is that the bass was mixed too low in the mix. I hear and sense it, but I feel like the bass is just being held back from doing its damage to the listener. As I played the album, I wanted it to be as in-your-face as James Hetfield’s face in the “One” video. Give me that kind of intensity.
Otherwise, for those who want their metal with a bit of a wallop without a fear for the gallop, Snailking should be your next listening venture.