Formed in 1999, Red Martian came out of the DIY punk scene in Seattle, WA. Drawing influences from My Bloody Valentine, New York Dolls, and Iggy Pop. Having previously released five CDs, six vinyl LPs, and four acetate limited-edition EPs on the band’s own label (Bughlt Records), we recently reviewed Red Martian’s sixth studio album, “Ghost Into The Fog”.
This time we go back to listen to the 2013 thirteen-track “SLOW MOTION SAMURAI” album. The vitality and tension of the band really comes through on the tracks here in a way that nothing from Red Martian’s previous or post SMS releases have ever done. “Slow Motion Samurai” is even far more focused and ferocious effort than “Ghost Into The Fog” in places.
There’s not a single track on here without the spark that turns a great album into an alternative rock masterwork. Every song is vocally beautiful, twisted and melodic, while the music is a grungy fuzz-feast of guitar crunch. As much as the guitars are superb, dense and emotional on “Ghost Into The Fog”, it left plenty room for everything else to breathe. On “Slow Motion Samurai”, the guitars are the outright dominant factor. They do not purposely attempt to suffocate the other instruments or the vocals, but totally eclipse everything else in sheer power and brilliance!
Red Martian is audibly confident and there’s so much flair, so many of those wonderful touches of genius that make my ears prick up continuously. And the songs… well, where do we start? Honestly, they’re all fantastic. But my favorites are “Emeraldas”, “Away”, “The Empty Sound”, “On You” and “Greying”. The latter could be the blueprint for a new album: a brilliant chord progression fed through different layers of distortion, building to one of the most atmospheric songs on the album.
The lyrics may be obscure and inscrutable, but somehow that only adds to the charm and the feeling, as it usually does on shoegazer tracks. These songs epitomize what Red Martian’s sound is all about, loud guitars and ethereal vocals that float almost airily atop the music blasts.
“Slow Motion Samurai” is a prime example of the power-punk shoegazer hybrid the band has cultivated for themselves, and features driven rhythms mixed with over top lead solo’s and perfect shades of quiet melody interspersed with blasts of unbridled aggression.
Red Martian is a fine example of indie rock brilliance and accessibility, and proves yet again the band’s penchant for writing melodious hooks and possessing exceptional songwriting qualities for beautiful, thick transcendent guitar driven tracks, with a crunchy exterior that encloses some of the most touching melodies. This is a great, great recording that everyone with even a passing interest in what is broadly known as “alternative rock” should own!