Ungraven and Slomatics – Split EP (Black Bow Records)

With Conan, his ‘day job’ band, Jon Davis had already teamed up with Belfast sludgers Slomatics once before on record.

And this time around, he’s brought his Ungraven project – a trio featuring Fudge Tunnel bassist David Ryley and Tuskar drummer Tyler Hodges – to the party.

There’s a starker contrast here than the Conan/Slomatics split of 2011, where the two bands almost tried to out-doom each other… and take the rest of the planet down with them.

That’s because Ungraven, while still bearing Davis’s trademark vocals and gravity well guitar tone, push their early 90s, alt-heavy influences to the fore – and do so at an (unsurprisingly) faster pace than the behemoth-like Slomatics. Albums like Fudge Tunnel’s Hate Songs In E-Minor and Nailbomb’s Point Blank are part of the band’s DNA. And as Davis himself admits, he’s not wearing his “doom hat” when writing for Ungraven.

Of Ungraven’s three contributions, Blackened Gates Of Eternity hits the hardest, mainly due to Hodges’ impressive barrage of pummelling tribal percussion, while Onwards She Rides To Certain Death runs that track a close second thanks to Davis’ mountain-flattening riffery and the infectious, hypnotic groove that runs through the song.

While Ungraven are still in their infancy, Slomatics are 16 years into a six-album career… and have clearly used this split as a chance to spread their wings.

Proto Hag is steeped in the primal sludge of much of the band’s work – and drags you quite willingly into a deep ocean abyss – but it’s psych-sprinkled, all enveloping post-doom of Monitors and Kaän that will make jaws drop to the floor here.

With these breathtaking compositions, Slomatics have built on the foundations laid by 2019’s astral doom opus Canyons… and then some.

Check out our interview with Jon Davis of Conan and Ungraven here.

Slomatics image above by Gerry Dollso.