Album Review :
Gaffer Project - Slowknife: A Study of Fear

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Gaffer Project - Slowknife

Label: New Breed Collective
Release Date: June 23, 2017


  1. A Little More
  2. As David
  3. Changed
  4. A Hardened Heart (feat. Kyle Phillips of Mongrels)
  5. Dying
  6. Without (feat. Ricky Gentek of Sons)
  7. A Father (feat. Luke Williams of Born Hollow)
  8. The Slowknife
  9. Sinks In

I have such a love-hate relationship with bands like Hotel Books and mewithoutYou. The half-screamed, half-spoken word vocals dabble in the poetic and gnomic but usually end up being too metaphorical to relate or too lyrically-constrained to the same themes to be interesting. Moreover, it’s just not appealing sonically.

Roanoke’s Gaffer Project unfortunately also straddles the line between incredibly promising and disappointing. With “Slowknife: A Study of Fear” as their first major release, listeners will find an album whose instrumentation is somewhat similar to chaotic hardcore acts like Not One is Upright and Rival Choir. Vocals, at times, also appropriate the previous acts. However, there’s an inconsistency in quality and the poeticism seems unnatural for this kind of genre. A straight-up screamed approach certainly would have been more welcome.

Ultimately, my biggest gripe with the album is its mediocrity. I hear elements of some of my favorite bands. Touché Amoré, Holding Onto Hope, La Dispute, and Rival Choir all take a similar vocal style but thrive on song structure and interesting vocal patterns. Instrumentally, there sadly isn’t a ton of cohesion. Some songs are heavier; some have piano and thrive on the negative space. I understand plenty of bands showcase diversity on their albums, but in many cases it feels like a conscious and calculated decision. Here, it feels more like a mixtape, apart from the lyrical concepts focused around fears we commonly face.

Overall, the album feels like something that I could really enjoy. It evokes plenty of comparison to other bands I admire. However, it doesn’t feel like the band has a good sense of its musical identity just yet, resulting in a release that feels fragmented and a bit confusing at times. Couple that with what I believe to be production issues, and the album leaves quite a bit to be desired. However, I do see plenty of promise in the band and am confident that if they continue to hone their craft, their next release could definitely resonate better with listeners.

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September 19, 2017 1:12 pm

Though I enjoy this album, seeing this band play live is such a game-changer.

Wiley Willis
Wiley Willis
July 3, 2017 12:33 pm

……well I think the person reviewing this album missed the whole point of this album. It’s all about the words. These words are so real, raw and deeply focused. I love how the vocals are presented. It’s a cry. It’s a cry out to God. A cry out to who ever shall or will listen. The album is fearless. It’s passionate. It’s a mix of a lot of things I’ve already heard yet completely different and unique standing alone in the middle of a valley of familiarity being oh so BOLD!

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