Not every emotion can be conveyed by a scream or blast beat — and that’s where Slow Crush come in. Whereas other bands incorporate soft textures with all sorts of different emotional undertones into a broader, strictly heavy music framework, Slow Crush ask why there has to be any limit to the gentleness at all. Where other bands in their community — they’re signed to Holy Roar Records — immerse themselves in the physically heavy end of the pool, Slow Crush go the other direction. Their new album Aurora — out September 28th — washes over the listener like a gentle but substantive rainstorm during a brisk evening, redefining through its near fragility how musical intensity can be expressed.
This effect was intentional. The members of Slow Crush, as the puppet masters at work, knew exactly where they wanted to go.
“We write all our songs really quick, the structure anyway,” they explain. “Then we record a demo of it and start layering. It can either start from a jam on a riff or from a vocal melody and an acoustic guitar. Most of the songwriting is done by [vocalist/bassist] Isa [Holliday] and [guitarist] Jelle [Ronsmans], and there is some sort of criteria by which we judge our songs or ideas when they are done. They must evoke some kind of emotional response — either bring literal tears to our eyes or invite us to dance. If it’s the middle of the road, songs end up in the bin. There is nothing like the initial feeling of creating and finishing a new song.”
Through Aurora, the band has zeroed in on their aims to provoke emotional responses. We’ve all got emotions, after all, waiting to be used.
“Every Yin has its Yang,” they assert. “Our “soft” layers communicate the fragility amongst the harshness of the world we live in. Like emotion, fragility is often preferred to be kept hidden or swept under the rug instead of talking about it or asking for help. It’s okay to let down your defenses sometimes and be yourself.”
“There’s no better place for that than on stage in front of strangers, right?!” they quip. “We’ve played a lot of mixed bills, mostly sharing the stage with heavier bands. Surprisingly enough, we captivate all sorts. Metalheads have feelings too! Someone recently told us that our show transported her to another dimension – proof that our gentle, dreamy side helps bring the listener into a trance to let the music envelop them. We aim for a full sensory experience.”
Thar full sensory experience provided through the sounds of Slow Crush lays atop a “do-it-yourself” foundation that the band is proud of. Outside of their affinity for unique expressions of intensity like those shared by other bands on Holy Roar’s roster — they’ve got bands ranging from the heavy hitters in Employed To Serve to the “blackgaze” devotees in MØL — the label’s support for their DIY ethic helped draw them in.
“When we just recorded Aurora we started looking for the right label. We got a few offers from some really cool labels. Since we like to take things into our own hands, do things our own way and the DIY ethics are still really strong in Holy Roar, they seemed the best choice. They work with a small, dedicated team and it already feels like we are all friends working towards a common goal. There is a huge community feel around Holy Roar Records. All the bands are like one big family. There are so many diverse bands on the label doing their own thing – just like us. We think it is the perfect label for us; they let us be ourselves. Couldn’t be happier!”
The personal drive behind Slow Crush includes a background the members share in “Britpop and softer 90s indie music,” as they describe it. Until the present band, though, the members hadn’t gotten a chance to express that side of their inspiration through creations as formal as these. Ronsmans had been interested in forming a shoegaze band all the way since 2012, but it wasn’t until late 2016 that Holliday and the other eventual members of the band came on board.
In the end, as long as the people persist, the music will too — Slow Crush prove that. They’re trailblazers just for being who they are.
Listen to one of the singles released ahead of Aurora on Spotify below.
Photo via Nous Davidse