Jan-Simon : For fifteen years Backwoods Payback, stoner rock band from the American "rust belt", has been trying to make a dent. Time flies, that's for sure. Their latest effort is the fifth album 'Future Slum' on which the band, reduced to a trio, looks at alternative noise rock and grunge from the nineties for inspiration. Especially the start of 'Future Slum' sounds like a condensed form of Faith No More, Therapy? and Alice in Chains, before returning to the known path of down-tuned fuzz guitars. This interaction creates a varied album that moves from one extreme to the other by the song: melodic and rough riffing.
Unfortunately 'Future Slum' has not become a better album by this variation in styles. It is neither this nor that: it isn't purely heavy fuzz based stoner and it is no noisy alternative indie rock. It is everything and it is nothing. Rather short as well, with just ten songs in 35 minutes. 'Whatever' is a slow sludge-meets-Soundgarden exercise and that alone makes it interesting. It obviously felt good for the band, because the next track 'It ain't Right' even exceeds it, in grunginess. Just too bad it is an utterly boring song. Whining and out of tune. After that the balance slowly moves towards the stoner that dominated on the previous albums, although the shadow of Seattle remains over every song. Of course one could say this is a way for Backwoods Payback to stand out in a sea of Palm Desert dwelling, joint smoking a dime a dozen stoner rockers. Absolutely true, only it would help to have song material that is not a dime a dozen. And when you're only filling 35 minutes, why have a dud like 'Cinderella' take up time and space?
Fortunately the next song is the angry agit rocker 'Generals', furiously screaming from the grooves. A hardcore like excursion that is clearly one of the highlights of 'Future Slum'. It will not come as a surprise by now that this is followed by the almost radiofriendly (and because of that rather tame) ballad 'Big Enough'. Like a mountain stage in the Tour de France peaks and valleys come as regular as clockwork. It is typical of the unbalance in this album, an album that won't be remembered as one of Backwoods Payback's better ones, let alone its best. Backwoods Payback will remain what it was: a promising band.