The Slashdogs - The Wail (2017)

David Lydiard

The Slashdogs are a Rock 'n Roll band from South Africa consisting of Ryan Tarboton (Vocals), Paul Gioia (Guitar / Vocals), Bill Bishop (Bass), Gianluca Tadiello (Guitar) and Leon Worst (Drums). 2017 marks the band's 14th anniversary and they're kicking off the year with a new EP, The Wail.

There is a raw quality to this EP, which to be fair has much to do with the fact that most of the recordings are the original demos. The band loved the energy and intensity of the first takes. Part of the urgency captured was due to the departure of long-time bassist and main songwriter, Henk Lustig, who announced in 2015 his desire to leave.

The Wail kicks off with 'Parting Shot' - a fast paced, punk song with a catchy chorus. A hefty slab of rock, steeped in 80s and 90s influences, this is a great way to start the EP off with a bang and gives the listener a good idea of what lies ahead.

'Ride On' offers more of the same fast paced punk but sounds slightly more refined. The raspy vocals, pounding drums, driving bass and the thick, heavy guitars propel the song forward with a relentless momentum. At times the song sounds like something The Cult would sing. These first two tracks definitely sound like they are the original demos that I mentioned previously, but that raw, urgent sound gives the songs a definite shot in the arm and gets your heart pumping.

'Some Kind Of Heaven' is a poignant tribute to South African punk rock stalwart, George Bacon, who tragically passed away in 2015. This track features a guest appearance from Hog Hoggidy Hog's Ross McDonald on horms, lending the song a Ska/Punk feel. It has a positive energy and comes across as a real celebration of Bacon's life, with the ending giving us a more intimate, melancholic approach 'Well you lived your time and lived it true, so it's left for the boys to sing'.

A huge change of pace comes next with the Suzanna Vega cover 'In Liverpool'. Acoustic guitars, low register vocals, and an eerie atmosphere, reminiscent of Pink Floyd. At times Ryan Tarboton's vocal delivery resembles Lou Reed. 'In Liverpool' is a dark, brooding song punctuated by thick, melodic lead guitar lines. A powerful guitar solo soars and lends the track a metal edge. It is in stark contrast to the sombre tone of the rest of the song.

'Too Close To See' is another slower paced song (albeit quicker than 'In Liverpool') and reminds me of a Foo Fighters track with its melodic chorus, anthemic rock sound and big guitars. For me, the song goes on for too long. Not that the track drags, because it doesn't, but with a bit of self-editing, they could've produced a real solid rock song that hits the mark perfectly.

If rock, most notably, punk rock is your thing, then you will definitely find something to enjoy within The Wail. The addition of the horns on some tracks as well as acoustic guitars on others give the EP a more rounded feel as opposed to it just being a relentless onslaught of similar sounding songs. The Slashdogs will release a 2nd EP at the end of the year, Sirens, which, along with this one, will ultimately form part of a full-length release. I for one can't wait to hear it and I look forward to it with anticipation.

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