This is a review of "Slave EP" recorded by Sawthroat. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2003.
This is a very smart live recording. It’s raw, punchy and pretty effective.
Sawthroat don’t do complicated stuff. They play guitar, bass, drums and they sing. They do straightforward guitar band music in the mainstream tradition of local metal-ish guitar bands and they do it pretty well.
As a live recording (one take in a studio?) it's fresh and exciting. It has faults in things that bug me like the singer's pitch, but the massive advantage is that there are none of the bogstandard effects or noodlings that studios shamelessly allow bands to inflict on themselves. If you’re one of the Sawthroat posse you’re going to love this. You've already got it? Fine. I'll carry on anyway.
"16 Lives" starts well, with a hypnotic guitar riff in a great opening sequence, but it slides a bit as a not very convincing song comes gradually unstitched.
"Hey Joel" has Karl missing the "L" off the end of the title every time he sings it. So, it’s "Hey Joe" but not a bit like the Tim Rose song that Hendrix covered. Lots of riffage but not a lot of song.
"Boots" also suffers from not being a well-written thing. More of a mood thrashed through with band and Karl packing as many words in as possible. A lowish point in the living room with the CD player in the background. A high point in a live gig.
Title track "Slave" starts on a hesitant chord sequence that makes the rest of the song difficult to retrieve. The singing is less steady on this one and the shouted chorus "love me, love me ... love me, love me" is a bit lame, making the response line "ain't gonna be your slave" totally unconvincing. The forced chorus repeats at the very end sound distressingly like difficulties with Ralph and Huey.
"Poet's Tale" is dark and moody and very possibly the best thing on the CD. There's really well controlled feedback and attack-mode guitars, with quiet and loud passages in just the right sequence.