DRAWERS
"Drawers"

(Kaotoxin)

01. Once and For All
02. Mourning
03. It's All About Love
04. Bleak
05. Take Stock
06. Shadow Dancers
07. Words
08. Detour

RATING: 7.5/10

The consensus analyzing French sludge disciples DRAWERS have unanimously cited this quintet to be chasing the heels of the mighty MASTODON, the "Remission" era, anyway. Permit me to endorse the consensus, even if comparing this album to "Remission" is like comparing any new death-thrash entrant to SLAYER's "Hell Awaits".

The churning tones from this band are reminiscent of MASTODON 2002 even if the goofy facial collision on DRAWERS' self-titled album cover rings of late Eighties-to-mid-Nineties Cali punk. In other words, DRAWERS' American emulations are amusing and sound-wise, they do crank out some decibels, but as a musical statement, what's it all for?

The opening three cuts "Once and For All", "Mourning" and "It's All About Love" are hardly "Crusher Destroyer", "March of the Fire Ants" and "Where Studies the Behemoth", but they'd sure like to be. You're either willing to hang with DRAWERS through their not-quite-there MASTODON impressions for fun or you're already heading for "Leviathan" without a second thought.

To be fair, Laurent Bringer, Alexandre Berenguer and Jeremie Ruiz have their low-end distortion plugs and reeling top layers down just fine and mad bear growler Nicholas Bastide pulls off an okay Troy Sanders to recreate certain applicable effects, though Bastide goes overboard at times. Drummer Oliver Lolmede is hit and miss throughout the album, depending on how fast he's asked to play.

Forget any comparisons to the impeccable Brann Dailor. On steady, mid-tempo lines, Lolmede is a crusher. It's when DRAWERS' would-be prog-sludge replications introduces black metal-kindred blast beats where Lolmede sounds off-kilter and clattery and these occur repetitively enough to downgrade many of the songs. They sound so out-of-place on "Mourning", for example, when you consider the rest of the song is played at a hefty march that the blast patterns almost seemed forced to appease a different demographic of metalhead. The strategy doesn't really work. On "It's All About Love", those blast beats are so sloppily executed they flush away the headstrong momentum of the song's otherwise catchy drive.

"Bleak" fuses subversive alt-pop harmonies beneath the chugging globs of the song's chords and jerked-out feeds. However, the attempt at melodic interjection into the choruses of "Take Stock" backfires on DRAWERS altogether with not-so-hot clean vocals and a subsequent, seemingly embarrassed abandonment of those overtures. Fortunately, "Shadow Dancers" turns a dime on DRAWERS' main theme by throwing in two variant hardcore rhythms that let the instrumentation take over for the most part and they provide some of the album's most original sounds. Afterwards, "Words" and "Detour" glue everything DRAWERS seeks from themselves with their tightest and best lines and finally, their option to cram blast sequences into "Words" makes sense. The flurrying finale to "Words" gives no pause as "Detour" takes over with bare transition, and here on this couplet is where DRAWERS stands tallest within the considerable shadows of their heroes.

There's no question DRAWERS are trying hard and they have the good taste to keep this album relegated to a half hour. Seeking to emulate one of the best in the business today is venerable only to the point it takes considerable talent to pull that off, and this band has guts for their undertaking. There are a few good cards for DRAWERS to play in their hand, but they have leaps and bounds over proverbial blood mountains before they're in MASTODON's league.

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