Freak Dreams

Century Media
rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. Talk Big
02. It's Tickin'
03. Chasing Highs
04. Nosedive
05. Hectic Life
06. It's Always You
07. True Blue
08. NBQ
10. Ain't Easy
11. Freak Dreams
12. Out Of The Blue Into The Black

If nothing else, "Freak Dreams" makes a refreshing change. While many folk in the metal world seem unreasonably obsessed with the '90s, and the revival of every last shit-pot phenomenon that decade produced, SLOPE are making the rather more audacious move of bringing back the late-'80s funk-metal sound. Admittedly, these young Germans are plainly a hardcore band at heart, and their take on the sound popularized by RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS (before they became truly abominable) is audibly influenced by the crunch of a thousand beatdowns too. But whether through luck, judgement, or both, "Freak Dreams" really does tap into the spirit of funk-fueled metal, as propagated by bands like MORDRED, SCATTERBRAIN and PSYCHEFUNKAPUS, a few years before the nu-metal movement essentially pulled off the same trick, but with far less wit or imagination.

SLOPE may be operating in a field of one right now. These 12 short, snappy songs certainly overlap with some of what is happening in hardcore, but with moments that bring to mind everything from early 311 to STRAY FROM THE PATH, the Germans' focus on groove and good times is authentically funky and executed with feel and finesse. The snotty likes of "Talk Big" and "It's Tickin'" never sound nostalgic for another age: instead, this is a great example of a band breathing new life into an old idea. From furiously uplifting pit-starters like "Chasing Highs" and "Ain't Easy", to the darker and heavier "WHY SAD" and "Out Of The Blue Into The Black", "Freak Dreams" is a sustained exhortation to party hard and dance until you drop. SLOPE's grasp of what made this stuff so entertaining the first time around is total, and despite occasionally falling short when it comes to big, memorable hooks, the sheer vivacity and drive that propels every song more than makes up for it.

The strongest moments arrive when SLOPE merge their influences and really revel in their own strong identity. "Nosedive" is a sublime crossover between a straight-ahead funk jam and a blistering hardcore rager; the title track is all tension and release, with mellifluous groove rock vibes interrupted by a nagging, gnarly thrash riff. Both will delight anyone that remembers funk metal's glory days, while introducing a ton of new people to a hybrid that still has the power to get people banging their heads and hitting the dancefloor with equal enthusiasm.

Author: Dom Lawson
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