For Fans Of
Slaves (not to be confused with the American post-hardcore act) are a British garage punk act with classic politically charged lyrics and simple, aggressive riffs. The band has recently released their debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’, which, in a simple and convenient nutshell, is a record that has the makings of a throwback 70’s punk record, with influence from British garage pop, as well as regional hip-hop.
As far as British punk and garage acts go, the listener is heavily reminded of the earliest Arctic Monkeys albums; before they completely revamped their style, or even the indie-punk stylings of Bloc Party. The zany two-piece that is Slaves open their debut with third single, ‘The Hunter’. An eerie riff that will not leave your head creeps into the aural fold before the vocals surge in, with the trademark (and expected) British accent in full form, while the lyrics attack political concepts through typical punk metaphors. Essentially, this track is a very solid way to open a record.
‘Are You Satisfied?’ is filled to the brim with weird and colourful lyrics, poppy/rock melodies, charging riffs and cute album artwork that also delivers unexpected electronic moments and lo-fi acoustic tracks. Unfortunately, the album fails to deliver another track as aggressive or punk-y as its opener. Don’t get us wrong – the album is certainly interesting, but it feels a little dated. In the 37-minute, 13-track release, not much strikes a new chord, with most of the offering feeling borrowed from older acts who have ‘been there, done that’. However, both members of the duo are rather proficient on their instruments, in comparison to counterparts in the genre. Drummer, Issac Holman delivers charging drumbeats that fuse well with Laurie Vincent’s blistering, garage style riffs – the gain and the drive is turned up, the tone is turned down, classic punk style. Vocal duties are shared between the two members, however Holman takes most of the vocal work, with raw yells, a full, thick British accent and every once in a while, solid hip-hop style flows.
The album’s production is rather clean, with an obvious intentionally raw feel to it; in saying this however, nothing is over produced and nothing feels too calculated. The instrumentation and vocals blend together really well and it is all very pleasing to the ear. The obvious stand-out track, ‘The Hunter’ is what Slaves should have focused on. That is, creating more tunes like the opening track; a throwback to old-school punk in a way that seems natural rather than uninventive.
There are many other bands doing what Slaves are doing, but with a fresher twist. Royal Blood, anyone?! Not to discount from Slaves’ album itself, it does deliver on being a rather solid, and at times enjoyable punk album – but there is far too many filler tracks that detract from the flow of things. There are too many wacky lyrics for what we can only assume are weird for the sake of being weird. Equally, there’s not enough dynamic in the feel of the album. Stand-outs are still present though, namely the aforementioned ‘The Hunter’ (seriously, even though the album fails to provide much else like it, this it is a great tune and, dare we say, a classic for the genre), ‘Feed The Mantaray’ and closing track ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth.’
Fans of the genre will most certainly appreciate ‘Are You Satisfied?‘ for what it is, and what is could be in the future. For what it is, Slaves have managed to offer something solid for now, but it is not enough compared to what other acts are doing. However, we can see them definitely growing, and getting more popular through their zany style of archaic punk.
Keep your eyes out for these boys, as we think they have potential, it just hasn’t quite been reached on ‘Are You Satisfied?‘. It is a solid throwback to when British punk was rather mainstream, and while it has been done before, and is still being done by much larger acts, Slaves deliver an interesting and fun album that we can see translating really well to a live setting. Although, on record it just isn’t that unique. So this poses the question, are we satisfied? The answer is, slightly.
1. The Hunter
2. Cheer Up London
4. Despair And Traffic
5. Do Something
6. Are You Satisfied?
9. Live Like An Animal
11. She Wants Me Now
12. Feed The Mantaray
13. Sugar Coated Bitter Truth