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Album Review: Sierra’s Pslip

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It figures that the very first release from Retro Futurist, the new label owned and operated by members of the sludge metal institution Kylesa, would sound exactly like one would expect it to. Ontario, Canada’s Sierra acts as the label’s first impression, and in some ways as the trial run for how Retro Futurist will do business. With Kylesa’s very own Philip Cope at the production helm, it seems like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Sierra’s debut album Pslip definitely borrows heavily from the Savannah, GA metal scene, but does it quite well.

For the most part, the 48-minute Pslip is a showcase of the same southern charms (fun fact: Canada is the South of the North), earthy tones, and at-times doomy textures of the tried-and-true stoner/sludge/post-metal formula popularized by the likes of Baroness, Mastodon, and Kylesa, but they manage to do so without sounding exactly like any of those bands. Pslip stays afloat by closely aligning itself with psychedelic rock and grunge through its duration and assimilating these influences seamlessly into the foray of riffs and whiskey-soaked vocal hooks.

The grooving and at-times angular riffing from tracks like “Psquigalogs” and “Control Folley” might as well have been played from the hands of Brent Hinds and will please headbangers, and frontman Jason Taylor’s bellowing cleans at-times conjure fleeting images of Eddie Vedder as much as they do a young and more coherent Ozzy Osbourne, albeit with a noticeable Southern drawl. From there, guitar solos ripped from the 70’s litter the landscape with a brazen acid rock character and the frequent dips into spacey interludes and meandering song structures give Pslip a progressive nature in form.

Of course, Sierra rock all of the traits and tricks that would be utilized by those forward thinking bands that toiled over brick and tar to form the path that lead us here, but do they make an effort to continue paving that path? Pslip is abundantly catchy and interesting to be sure, but is lacking its own identity. Few riffs are cooler than the desert-rock grooves of “Into Nothing,” but can be placed among a dozen other bands, from Queens of the Stone Age to Black Label Society. Still, it’s hard to deny the funk swing of the solo section that comes later.

Sierra’s Pslip isn’t scheduled for release until next Tuesday, January 28… but the entire album seems to be available for streaming and purchase here.

Pslip is mighty comfortable putting the rock n’ roll back into sludge, and can’t be faulted much for providing fans with another addition to the genre. The record surely is inspired, but almost curiously derivative. Pslip makes for fine accompaniment to a beer and a blunt, and with songs this catchy, transgressions can be forgiven for now.  Moving forward though, talent this rich could take some chances next time around; Sierra could be making great strides if they can manage to cut a path all their own.

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