Release Date: September 10, 2021 Genre: Alternative Rock, Progressive Rock, Pop Rock Label: Dangerbird Records
Boston, Massachusetts, alternative rock trio Slothrust (pronounced sloth-rust) has been making waves since their debut EP, The Demo(n)s, in 2010. The alternative rock trio has returned with their latest and fifth studio album, Parallel Timeline, which will be released on September 10th via Dangerbird Records. Slothrust is made up of vocalist/guitarist Leah Wellbaum, bassist/producer Kyle Bann, and drummer Will Gorin. The ten-track album is a major push forward for the band, who are constantly taking new approaches with each of their albums. Parallel Timeline was once again produced, mixed, and engineered by Billy Bush (Garbage, Neon Trees, The Boxer Rebellion), co-produced by band member Kyle Bann, and finally mastered by Heba Kadry (Bjork, The Hotelier).
The album opens on the slower side with the mid-tempo track, "Cranium." The single is a straightforward pop-rock number with minimal instrumentation. As the song builds over its nearly five-minute run time, Wellbaum performs a slow, melodic guitar solo to close the track out. The perfect track to open this album. "Cranium" is a song about wanting to serve love but not knowing the right way to do so, either offering too much or something unwanted. Following is one of the album's catchiest tunes, "Once More For The Ocean." A much faster song than "Cranium," it begins with a thrilling guitar solo, and its indie rock influences come straight to the surface immediately. Additionally, the track also uses vocal effects -and is the only track on the album to do so- to give this feeling of Wellbaum singing while she's taken underwater as the waves hit the coast -such a nice touch to the song. "Once More For The Ocean" was written while Wellbaum was staring out at one of her favourite oceans in the world on Star Island off the coast of Rye, New Hampshire.
On the album's fourth track, "The Next Curse," Slothrust has their first-ever feature. Featuring Halestorm frontwoman Lzzy Hale, the track is the album's heaviest, boldest, and I guess you can say for Slothrust, one of their most extreme tracks. It's a massive shift for the band and the album branching off into the realm of hard rock. It's a song about the climate crisis currently threatening our planet. Musically, "The Next Curse" is chock full of heavily distorted guitar riffs, pounding drums, and throbbing bass. Additionally, both Leah and Lzzy's vocals are extraordinary together throughout this four-minute song. I wouldn't mind a full Slothrust album dabbling in hard rock. The rest of the album from here on out is smooth sailing. Nothing really delves off course, out of the "typical" sound from the band. The album's next track, "Strange Astrology," is another slower, stripped-down number that's primarily electronic sounds, keyboard, and simple drums. "Strange Astrology" is a song celebrating the cosmic make-up of romantic relationships. It's dedicated to Wellbaum's girlfriend of six years and meditates on astrological compatibility.
"Waiting" is another strong showing of the phenomenal songwriting on Parallel Timeline. "Waiting" is a pop-rock number at heart that essentially blends a little bit of everything this album has to offer into one collective tune. "Waiting" is built around a piano/keyboard piece with distorted guitar and heavier drums that fill out the track. As the song develops further over its runtime, it features yet another sharp guitar solo from Wellbaum. Whereas "King Arthur's Seat" showcases the band dabbling with progressive rock strongly built around an acoustic guitar. "King Arthur's Seat" was inspired both by Scotland and Billy Joel. Most of the album was written pre-pandemic, but "A Giant Swallow" was not and is a full-on folky, acoustic-focused ballad. Furthering the outstanding songwriting on Parallel Timeline, "A Giant Swallow" pulls references from some of the band's previous works, dating back to their debut album, Feels Your Pain (2012).
The album's stripped-down, acoustic-centric title track, "Parallel Timeline," closes out the album. The closing track is pretty close to the exact sound used on "A Giant Swallow." However, there is much more focus on the acoustic guitar on this particular track. In the perfect way to close out this magnum opus, the track builds, it reaches a point of no return to this incredible musical piece that repeats over and over for approximately the course of the song's last minute, with Wellbaum simply singing "woahs" over top of a well-written instrumental.
Parallel Timeline, as aforementioned, is a massive push forward for the rock trio. Slothrust takes the sound and styles they have come to be known for and builds upon them without any effort from Wellbaum, Bann, and Gorin. Between Bush's production and Wellbaum's intricate songwriting on the record, the album from front to back is consistent with plenty of diverse, powerful bangers. Wellbaum's guitar work is outmatched on Parallel Timeline. The push into heavier music seen on "The Next Curse" -that also saw the addition of Lzzy Hale- is one the band should consider delving into in the future, and while the band suits numerous styles of rock/pop to date, a full-blown hard rock effort from Slothrust would absolutely push the band once again in the future.
Be sure to pre-save or pre-order a physical copy of Parallel Timeline here before its release this Friday.