Science fiction used to be as simple as a glowing red light and an eerily calm voice. HAL 9000 didn't need all the CGI bells 'n' whistles of the Transformers franchise to be a total menace in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sometimes minimalism packs a maximum punch, and to Irish cosmonauts Slomatics, simplicity's not a dirty word. On Future Echo Returns – the final chapter of their intergalactic trilogy – the riff-rocketeers continue their less-is-more approach with doom that feels heavier than a dying planet. Exploring themes that guitarist David Majury says range from "despair, hope, [and] space travel" to "more despair," Slomatics balance starlit melodies with their signature low-end. From the brutish pound of "Estronomicon" to soaring closer "Into the Eternal," Future Echo Returns proves that even if no one can hear you scream in space, you can sure as hell still hear Slomatics in the vast beyond.
Below, Majury tells Decibel about the album's genesis and working with fellow gear-hounds and volume-addicts Conan. But first, blast into Slomatics' universe in Future Echo Returns.
What was the band's philosophy when you started in 2004?
David Majury: It was very simple and hasn't changed much since. We just wanted to play music for ourselves and not worry about writing to be part of any scene or movement. Simplicity was and still is important to us too – we'd all played in a band before which had got increasingly complex and we wanted to skip all that and just focus on loud fuzzy riffs. We'd been part of the DIY scene here in Belfast for some time so those values were ingrained in us from the start. Not having goals based on commerciality or success has freed us to follow our own path.
Did you have any internal discussions about what adjustments you wanted to make to your sound between Estron and Future Echo Returns?
Majury: Yes and no. We had already thought about the follow up when we were writing Estron, so we'd some idea about the general tone of the album then. Of course that only really becomes apparent once the actual writing begins. I think that once every record is written I'm always looking towards how the next one will be different and with Future Echo Returns I certainly wanted to push the elements of Estron much further. As a group we talked about what we'd want to explore a bit more, almost how far we could stretch our sound out without losing the things that make the album still sound like the same band. It comes down to little things really, the use of different effects, synths, and tones.
What was the songwriting process like for Future Echo Returns? Did it differ in any form from the way you wrote the other two albums in this trilogy?
Majury: This one was a little different. In the past we've tended to jam out ideas in the practice space and allowed songs to come together slowly, but this time it was more a case of me bringing fully formed riffs and songs to the practice room, and then our drummer/vocalist Marty [Harvey] making sense of the whole thing and working out all the phrasing and melody. It was fun as the songs tended to change quite a bit and ended up sounding quite different to how I'd initially heard them. I think there was a little bit of pressure on this time as we booked studio time before we started writing, whereas usually we finish writing and then book in. As a result we were probably better at agreeing when each song was finished rather than endless tweaking. Each time is different though, and we've already talked about our next recording which will be totally different again.
What was the experience like recording at Skyhammer Studios? With your band and Conan members working together again, was it the loudest building in the UK?
Majury: Haha, it's definitely a loud studio! We've recorded there before so we knew how it would work. It's just an incredible place. Without wanting to sound all new-age, there's a distinct atmosphere to Skyhammer, being hidden away on the countryside in such a cool old building. We've been good friends with the Conan boys for years and have spent plenty of time with Chris Fielding so it was very relaxed and fun. He has an innate understanding of heavy music so it's really easy to record with him. He's extremely precise too and had a few really good ideas about changes which benefited the session. We don't have the luxury of weeks in the studio and it was important that we got things done to schedule which thankfully wasn't a problem with Chris steering things. As gear nerds, being in the same studio as Conan is obviously a dream, as there's no end of incredible amps and cabs. We had access to all manner of Matamps, Sunn, and Marshall gear.
What's next for Slomatics?
Majury: We've a short tour with our friends in Headless Kross coming up in a couple of weeks, and then we're off to the Hostsabbat festival in Norway in September. [Future Echo Returns] will be out [September 2nd] and we're looking at more EU/UK shows around that now. We've just agreed to write for a film too which is really exciting, and we've plans for another trip to Skyhammer to record an EP of new stuff early in 2017.
Pre-order Future Echo Returns from Black Bow Records HERE and let Slomatics personally guide you through the beauty and brutality of outer space.