I have seen Lower Slaughter grow mighty since their first live show supporting Terminal Cheesecake in Brighton – they’re to be easily my favourite band on the bill of each show that I have witnessed since that day. I have watched them lose their completely unique first vocalist Max Levy only to be thrilled when they regrouped with the immensely talented Sinead Young (formerly of Glasgow noise rock favourites Divorce) fronting the band. Then I worried again when it was announced that she’d be moving back to Glasgow just after they finished recording this debut. Lower Slaughter are now positioned at opposite ends of the UK, but they’re persevering – a relief as they are one of the most unique noise rock bands to have appeared in the past five years. What of this first full-length release though? Does What Big Eyes meet my towering expectations?
Most definitely and emphatically, yes. The striking thing about the first few seconds of opener ‘Bone Meal’ is how stark it all sounds. Jon Wood’s guitar is cutting and not overly distorted; he chops out a ZZ Top riff and then the rhythm section piles in – it’s like listening to early Jesus Lizard but with more swagger and more playfulness. Sinead’s vocals have always been full of character and her power and delivery are something else, as any fans of Divorce can attest.
At the halfway point on the record, with ‘Caliban And The Witch’, the full power of Sinead’s voice is laid bare. With the band building in intensity and speed she sings, ‘If I burn, you’ll burn, I’ll take you all to hell with me,’ and you believe it.
What you’ve got here are 10 songs full of pomp, spit and bile careening about with uptempo stomping and heavy sludge. It’s a completely fun and exhilarating listen, which might sound weird if you were expecting a Lower Slaughter record to be a heavy sobering experience. There is so much enthusiasm, energy and joy on display, it’s a must-have for anyone who loves the wonderful music coming from the UK underground.