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Sludge Metal(?) - 80%

Gespenster, October 20th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Season of Mist (Digipak)

Floor is a band with a patterned history behind it. It formed back in 1992 from Miami, Florida, and planned to release material for two full-lengths entitled “Dove” and “Saturnine,” but the group split up in 1996, and the two albums would come over a decade later into the picture. They then reformed in 1997, but only rehearsed and recorded very occasionally until in 2002, their first self-titled full-length was finally released. Afterwards, however, the band broke up again a couple years later. They played a reunion tour spanning from 2010 to 2011, but it wasn’t until 2013 when the band would finally start turning its wheels once again. What follows is the band’s third full-length released in 2014 after “Floor” and “Dove,” which would be simply be known as “Oblation.”

Scanning through websites such as Last.fm and Wikipedia, I found that Floor is a band that is commonly associated with the sludge metal genre; even my favorite music magazine Outburn labelled their newest record as "sludge pop." On the contrary, however, while this band certainly has some of its roots ingrained in said genre, that's only scratching the surface of Floor's type of sound. It polymerizes and expands on other different genres, including doom, heavy metal, stoner, and even hints of alternative rock, making it arguably one of the most multi-dimensional of its kind. What's great about this diversity is that it isn't here just as an attempt to be different; the way the songs in the record are written and these categories are blended together draw in a lot of heaviness and rawness to engage its audience.

A couple examples would be "Homegoings and Transitions" and "Forever Still." For the former, it has a bit of an 80's-style garage rock sound to it, with the on-and-off guitar flashing sort of underlining the album's sense of melody on top of it. As for the latter, as well as a few others, it's structured in a way that displays a hard rock type of build and progression to it. Tidbits such as these show off how the album manages to expand itself into different genres for the sake of sounding fleshed-out, yet at the same time, the songs sound consistent for their heavy atmosphere and low-tuning. In short, "Oblation" is diverse, but concise.

To go along with that is a surprising amount of speed dynamic throughout the album. Songs such as the title track and "Trick Scene" lie on the slower side of the spectrum for the sake of a more concentrated and sludgy brand of heaviness. On the other hand, however, there are tracks including "War Party" and "Rocinante" that actually move in a faster pace to showcase more energy and ferociousness. Both sides work out because not only does this notion prove that the album achieves dynamic through different velocities, but they still sound consistent enough to have the entire record tie together quite seamlessly. The album becomes more engaging and interesting to listen to listen to through its peaks and valleys, and whether slow or fast or anything in between, "Oblation" works in any sort of realm.

The sound production also works very well in this album and makes it all the more potent. The buzzing of the guitar amplifiers and the echoing of the drums and vocals make the entire performance seem as if it was recorded during a live concert. This raw and resonant ambiance makes the music even easier to immerse yourself into, since its thickness contain a lot more atmosphere. Heaviness is not compromised, however; the cloudy, garage-like sound of the guitars, the clarity of the singing, and the trashiness of the drums still shine through to give the music more of an edge to it, making for a very nice balance.

If there is any downside to this album, it would have to be that there are instances when the songs tend to get too repetitive and lacking in volume dynamic. For an example, the album opener/title track actually stays the same throughout, repeating the same structures until it ends. Although not a bad-sounding track, considering how pretty much the rest of the album manages to pull the dynamic off, it is one of the less impressive bits that "Oblation" has to offer. As for the volume, a few of the the songs tend to stay completely loud for the grand majority of the time. While these tracks still are far from lackluster, it would have been better if they had more variety to them like some of the other ones.

Back on the bright side, though, the best track to introduce newcomers to this album would have to be "Love Comes Crushing," as it demonstrates this album's sense of progression and dynamic to the highest degree. During the first few minutes, the song starts off in a very slow and destructive pace that definitely is reminiscent of the band's sludgy roots, dishing out crunchy and muddy low-tune riffs throughout. As the song proceeds, however, it starts to gradually build up speed as the drums and vocals enter for musical layering. Towards the end, the track finally explodes into a rapid-fire pace with thrashing drums and fierce guitar riffs, almost in a volcanic fashion. "Oblation" in general is a strong effort, but out of all it has put on the table, "Love Comes Crushing" is probably the most powerful of them.

"Oblation" is a great album that spans towards a sleuth of different genres while remaining consistent and true to its bizarre identity. The very good amount of speed dynamic between slow, steady, and faster paces, and it makes the experience all the more intriguing to hear. The only real issue is the occasional lack of said dynamic in terms of velocity and volume, but overall, the pros seriously outweigh the cons. This record is highly recommended to anyone looking for surreal music that transcends genre classification and creates its own brand of heaviness.


Originally posted on: http://metaljerky.blogspot.com/

In Brooks We Trust - 84%

RondofedoR, May 1st, 2014

Ten years have gone by since sludge/doom trio Floor last released Dove, the band’s fateful second record and the signaling of not only their unraveling, but also the emergence of sludge-pop-guns Torche. Whereas the Floridians’ self-titled 2002 debut was a successful first incarnation of what guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks would continue with Torche, Dove was far noisier, dissonant, and perhaps too stoned for its own good. To much fan jubilation, Floor reunited in 2010 and, having pooled together the same line-up from 2002 – Brooks and Anthony Vialon on guitars and Henry Wilson on drums – they’re set to release Oblation, their third and most cohesive full-length album, and a record that marries the exuberance of the debut with the doomy intentions of the successor.

Truth be told, Oblation sounds a whole lot like a new Torche album. The template of heavy drums, big fuzzed-over riffs, and Brooks’ unmistakable singing could easily have listeners thinking twice. It’s a caveat, for sure, but it’s a minor one, as the tracks on Oblation are if anything a cool-climate balance of stonerized cruising and compact doom catchiness. It’s a formula that works more often than not, although, at 15 tracks in length (digital edition includes “Shadowline”), even all of its good-natured crunch has an expiration date.

For a no-bass band, Floor pack quite a punch with the dual efforts of Brooks and Vialon and the timely kick drums of Wilson. A song like the short instrumental “The Quill” exemplifies this power, as does its follow-up, “Love Comes Crushing,” a four-minute episode that transfers the passion into great and reverberating single-note riffs before the shit hits the fan and things go all Punky Brewster. “Homegoings and Transitions” is one of the better tracks on the album in that not only does it distance itself from the overarching Torche vibrations, but it shines with its quaint refrains and vibrant guitar effects, making it the most eclectic ditty Oblation has to offer. Of course, if you’re looking for some of that lovely ole thunder pop, the album-titled opener “Oblation,” “Find Away,” and the late-night hook-up of “New Man” ought to wet your whistle just fine.

So, yeah…Floor are back with Oblation, and it, and they, sound wonderful…and also like Torche, which isn’t exactly news. The album is enjoyable from start to finish with Brooks’ always refreshing vocals and a wealth of mammoth riffs that are too heavy and grooved-over not to love. A nice change of pace from all of this blackened sludge the kids are so nuts about these days.

Written for The Metal Observer