Album: Losin’ Grip – EP
It’s hard to know what losing your mind would sound like—you know, if you had to ascribe a soundtrack to it. While it would likely vary from person to person, I’d be more than willing to bet that there would be similarities on a somewhat global scale: moments of intense chaos with slivers of serenity and everything in between. In other words, it would probably sound a whole lot like the BDHW debut by devastating Duisburg hardcore act, Slope—aptly titled Losin’ Grip. While Slope assert themselves as a relatively young and rambunctious act, they strike with the sound of an experienced and odd fusion act. An off-the-wall mashup of beatdown hardcore, hardcore punk and bouncy, bass-heavy funk with a penchant for ludicrous breakdowns and ethereal interludes, Losin’ Grip is a short, surreal venture into heaviness unlike anything else out there.
Instrumentally, imagine a band stranded at the crossroads between heavy hardcore and Primus—beefy, thick slamming sections and bone-busting breakdowns, but broken up by bass-heavy, funky and furious grooves that feel too contemporary for the 90s, but too nostalgic for 2017. Losin’ Grip is that album and Slope are that band. From the first seconds of “9-5,” the listener knows that Losin’ Grip is unlike anything hitting the airwaves this year—or this decade. Dancy, bouncy drumming serves as a firmament for popping, slinking bass and an almost tropical guitar tone—a vibe that quickly deteriorates into a fist-swinging, head-banging breakdown led by low, rumbling guitars. Slope just slide like that from track to track—with “9-5” being one of the most unpredictable numbers, ranging from Jimmy Buffet-esque fretwork to some heavy-handed ride-bell slamming and splashy, sinister chugging that snaps the listener back to reality (the “reality” being that this is a band signed to BDHW Records). Songs like “Movinô Losinô” and “Suffer the Ice” capture that same oscillatory dynamic, while “Buzz Off!” Is a little more straightforward, and “The Void” starts with an energetic onslaught of lacerating leads and roaring riffs that quickly decays into the ambient closing number, “Straight to Nowhere.” Slope are tough to describe because they find themselves firmly in uncharted territory, combining early hardcore, funk, beatdown and metal all into one bizarre but brutal experience.
If you thought Slope sounded like a musical doozie, then the group’s vocal dynamic is really going to throw you for a loop. Where “Buzz Off!” And “The Void” see Slope relying predominantly on a thick, raw mid-range roar, the remainder of Losin’ Grip isn’t so simple. “9-5” and “Movinô Losinô” see odd clean vocals working their way into the band’s dynamic, where “Suffer the Ice” is faster and more pissed off than the other songs on Slope’s release. Where the group’s vocal effort is definitely varied, what stands to be so stellar about it is that the weirdest parts of Slope’s vocals match excellently with the weirdest parts of the band’s musicianship. Take the end of “Suffer the Ice,” where almost hair-metal singing erupts at the end over a heavily distorted guitar and jumbled, splashy drumming. I can’t think of many other bands that could manage to pair the two and keep a straight face, let alone manage to do it well—but Slope do.
Losin’ Grip is insane—nothing more and nothing less. Slope manage to capture some of heavy hardcore’s highlights and seem to pioneer a whole new sound in the process—but it isn’t without its flaws. The first of which is simple and not as much as a flaw as it a disclaimer: there’s a tolerance curve to Losin’ Grip. At first listen, the listener probably won’t get that into it—with the exception of the closing riff of “The Void” and most of “Movinô Losinô.” However, with each time, the funky parts grow more and more, making a home inside the listener’s head that stays there for quite some time. The second issue with Losin’ Grip is its brevity—especially considering the longest track, “Straight to Nowhere” is a bass-heavy shoegaze interlude with little-to-no vocal element. Where it seems fitting to end the album in a sort of puzzling manner, “Straight to Nowhere” could easily be cut in half and another song in the same vein as “9-5” would be welcome in its place. Ultimately, Losin’ Grip is ludicrous and fun—and while Slope might lose some points for their lack of accessibility and brevity, they gain most of them back for doing what no other band can or will.
For Fans Of: Primus, Madball, Cold Hard Truth, Nasty
By: Connor Welsh