ALBUM REVIEW - Snowchild "Age of Change"

  Album Review by Torin Andersen  Produced by Glenn Baughman and Larry Donaldson Co-produced by Paul DeCeglie Mixed and Mastered by Eric Harrison  Release   November 27th, 2016

Album Review by Torin Andersen
Produced by Glenn Baughman and Larry Donaldson
Co-produced by Paul DeCeglie
Mixed and Mastered by Eric Harrison
Release November 27th, 2016

Thick as mud, yet as crystal clear as a super moon on a cloudless night, Snowchild releases Age of Change in a haze of fuzzed out psychedelic doom rock. The cast includes some of Wichita’s most prized rock and roll experimenters: Larry Donaldson, Chad Duncan and Dustin Roberts.  

When you see them live (heavily encouraged), Dustin will be mostly on guitars, Larry will likely be singing and playing bass with a bit of synthesizer and Chad will be on drums. However, these guys are not limited to just those instruments. I’m sure there was a fair amount of instrument swapping during the process of recording this four song, so called, Age of Change.

Hitting play and hearing the opening song, which the EP is named after, is like being hit by a fuzz avalanche. Thick and inescapable, it is easy to get swept up in this down-tempo sludge-fest. Heavy doesn’t begin to describe Snowchild but the immoveable object/riff does. "Age of Change", the song, comes in over 9 minutes and it even spans a few different tempos. Churning and evolving, the song erupts at the end, sending audio tracers into an appropriately patient and equally weighty epic song breakdown.

"Born in Flames" has an unexpected start. Beginning with tame drums and a Fender Rhodes electric piano lick, ala The Doors, it continues to build over the next almost ten minutes. An extended guitar solo consumes the opening two minutes before Donaldson’s signature howling vocal melodies seem to emerge from a misty horizon. Snowchild makes for an easy Black Sabbath reference. But, if you’re going to pursue creating music in this genre, it would be a mistake to not reference those who conceived it’s origins. And no, this is not replication. Snowchild is building and expanding on the idea.

On the subject of expanding, Roberts has championed the use of augmenting the electric guitar sound as much as possible. Age of Change brings your ears directly into the experiment, sounding more complete now than ever. Not to be outdone, Donaldson opens "Kings of Koch" with a dynamically-filtered bass solo. Then, at around the one minute mark, the rest of the band punches a hole through it. These riffs are like mountains, cut only by the constant pounding of a river—or in this case, Chad Duncan’s relentless drum pummeling. Few will appreciate the patience needed to be this steady at this tempo. Less wise men would fall to the temptation of filling space where Duncan’s minimal approach anchors the barge.

The imagery that Snowchild conjures up isn’t too far from what some of the lyrics suggest, but it may be a little closer to home than you expect. A few lines from "Kings of Koch": “I’ve seen your truth and I know your kind, serpent's kiss and a prophet's rhyme.” Followed by, “Choke the world with a fist vengeance from the ivory towers of the plains." One could make the connection about the Koch Industries offices towering from amidst the Wichita landscape. Couple that with the closing line, “Trade today for the promise of an easy future, and don’t be surprised when your darkest dreams come to rise”, and you have a rich bed of political and lifestyle commentary.  

For those of you waiting for synth, the song "Boudica" does not disappoint. Coming in at over 16 minutes long, this is a journey you may need to prepare for. Spanning what feels like the uncharted cosmic territory of primordial man, the opening three minutes give way to the weight, and this train starts on the journey of a lifetime. "Boudica's" reach is dense yet easy to follow, but the real trip doesn’t start until after eight minutes. Then the blotter starts to kick in. Words won’t do it justice—trust me. Put on your shades and walk into the sunset, but beware the night—the Age of Change is upon us.

To download or stream Snowchilds's Age of Change, please visit their Bandcamp.