The first time I heard Russia’s Slot was a few years back and I hated it, apparently being quite upset and giving it an awful score. That being said, the band have changed a lot since those days and they’ve given me a rather intriguing electronic alternative hard rock/modern metal album. Slot could be compared to acts like Evanessence or Lacuna Coil, but more towards the latter. Light harsh vocals do appear during the latter songs, but most of what we’re getting from the male vocalist is either a clean vocal approach or Russian rap, which actually comes off pretty listenable. As far as the frontwoman Nookie, she delivers a very strong performance on several of these tracks, and even though the vocals are in Russian, some of these tracks will certainly get stuck in your head as they did in mine. Additionally, each song offers a different feeling throughout and the listener doesn’t know what to expect, which I think is a very good thing as it keeps the recording fresh. The first track began with a very Lacuna Coil style: down-tuned thumps, subtle electronics and a strong vocal chorus by Nookie. The second track is more of a dance-club friendly mix, with another strong vocal chorus hit by Nookie again. She used to be quite unlistenable from what I remember earlier in this business, but it seems that she really went out there and got the proper vocal training. You can hear it in the extremely high, albeit raspy notes that she hits. She’s definitely feisty on these tracks, which gives them a good kick of piss and Vodka. The third track on the disc is a bit strange though, as we are more or less thrown about three or four minutes of Russian rap before a very powerful and extremely catchy moment in the chorus, which really takes off like a lightning storm towards the end. The fourth track goes into heavier territory, but once again, she knocks it out of the park as the frontman raps amidst the eastern samples and the thumping metal riffs. The fifth track almost feels like a ballad, but it hits just as hard, despite it’s more melodic undertone. Again, Nookie almost screams when she belts out these lines, but it’s in a sort of melodic tone that I can appreciate as a vocalist myself. American female vocalists don’t necessarily scream out their vocals in this kind of manner, and when they do, it sounds horrible because there’s no real melodic tone. The sixth track observes downtuned riffs and subtle dubstep, albeit with some rapping and Nookie’s vocalizing in the background. The mid-portion here is worth taking note of, especially that riff (which is not something I thought I’d say on this kind of record) which we don’t hear for long enough, I feel. It’s a pretty powerful sentiment regardless.
The seventh track actually begins on a very good note, with an extremely strong and catchy riff-melody that literally reminds me of something I might hear from Sentenced. I’m not really sure who’s playing the guitar, but he’s definitely hiding some of his skill and talent behind subtle simplicity. When you’re in a more commercial rock band, you tend to play more commercial rock type music, but I’ve no doubt that this guy can shred given the right place and time. Track eight shows another good riff, along with a catchy electronic melody that work well together. It’s definitely more of a poppy ballad, with some rap influence and a strong radio-rock chorus. Nookie sounds a bit restrained here, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I thought she was going to rupture a vocal chord on some of these tracks. For those of you who didn’t know, she was actually stabbed in the throat a few times by a rabid fan shortly after the release of the band’s previous album. It’s safe to say that she’s really giving it her all here after being so close to death’s door. I’m telling you folks, this is one hell of a vocal performance. I wrote this band off the first time I heard them, but now I just can’t say the same. Skipping a few cuts, we hit the eleventh cut, where not only a powerful riff melody opens the cut, but a full-blown children’s choir takes over. It’s not the first time I’ve heard children’s choirs on rock and metal records, but I certainly didn’t expect to hear them here. As you might expect, the chorus that the children sing here is quite strong and I wish I knew what the heck it was about. The song even throws in a guitar solo, of which there are several rather promising ones. (I just hope that maybe on future records these solos will be a bit longer.)
It’s not my place to spoil this record for you completely, so you’ll have to discover the rest for yourself, including the rather interesting closing piece that you’ll have to hear to believe. America, I think that it’s now time to give Slot a chance on our shores and from what I’ve witnessed on this release, they have the potential to blow up worldwide. It’s not hard to tell why they’re extremely famous in their native country and I’m pretty sure that we’re going to hear more from them in the future. I do wonder a bit as to why Slot were never featured on the soundtrack to the Russian produced Hardcore Henry, as I heard a great deal of Russian music there and these guys could have made a real hit having been featured during the credits. Pretty much any of these songs I think would have worked, as long as they were upbeat and with the strong choruses I mentioned. That’s where Slot seems to truly shine. Well, maybe in the sequel then. (The Grim Lord)