Album review: SLIFT – ILION

French psych-rock voyagers SLIFT hit cosmic highs on thrilling third album…

Album review: SLIFT – ILION
Olly Thomas

2020’s UMMON found Toulouse trio SLIFT lacing their stoner jams with heavier highs, but third full-length ILION is a supreme step-up into defiantly epic territory. The opening title-track kicks off with chant-like incantations swiftly buried by barnstorming guitar overload and thunderous beats, before settling into a groove of busy basslines and declamatory vocals. As the song stretches out across 11 minutes, SLIFT’s distinctive dynamism comes to the fore in an ever-mutating splurge of psychedelic splendour.

Thus is the pattern set for an album where eight tunes amount to an 80-minute, double-vinyl extravaganza of sonic overload. Everything from their titles to their lengthy durations to the occasional sense that someone’s about to start chatting about druids make The Words That Have Never Been Heard and The Story That Has Never Been Told undeniably prog rock in feel, but rest assured that it’s an incarnation of the genre that includes space for sections of absolute wallop.

Standout track Nimh shows the band at their most metallic, with doomy riffs and a forceful vocal performance from frontman Jean Fossat taking things into a similar orbit to the likes of Mastodon or Baroness. It’s a particularly cosmic sort of heaviness, natch, with a mid-song twinkling guitar line reaching into the skies and lyrics about a doomed spaceship. Another highlight comes in the shape of Weavers’ Weft, its hazy sense of smoked-out drift continuing to spill into slabs of crushing heft.

And maybe that’s ILION in a nutshell: exhilaratingly expansive music balanced by a sense of darkness and foreboding, travelling simultaneously into outer space and inner turmoil. SLIFT’s expansive energy and transcendental creativity provide a uniquely rewarding thrill.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: King Buffalo, Goat, Ufomammut

ILION is released January 19 via Sub Pop

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