Doom Metal Supergroup Slower Share Their Cover Of Slayer’s “War Ensemble”


Earlier this year the existence of Slayer tribute band Slower was made public. That doom/stoner collective aims to clamp down the speed of what was perhaps thrash metal’s most sinister breakout band, while reinventing their storied catalog in the process.

A wealth of talent was put to the task in doing so, with Slower‘s roster consisting of:

Vocals: Amy Barrysmith (Year Of The Cobra)
Vocals: Laura Pleasants (Kylesa)
Guitars: Bob Balch (Fu Manchu)
Bass: Peder Bergstrand (Lowrider)
Bass: Scott Reeder (Fireball Ministry, ex-Kyuss, etc.)
Drums: Esben Willems (Monolord)

That project’s vision has now come to fruition and will result in a self-titled debut album due out January 26th on Heavy Psych Sounds. Following its past tease, the collective have now premiered their full take on Slayer‘s 1990 classic “War Ensemble“. Various members of Slower spoke of tackling this track, read on for what they had to say.

Amy Barrysmith:

“‘War Ensemble‘ was the first song I was approached with for this project. The only direction I got was to ‘have fun and be creative’, so I decided to look at it as if it were an original piece, not a cover, and not Slayer. Pretty easy to do, honestly. The riffs slowed down really created a life of their own. It’s genius in so many ways! From there, creating the melody and harmony lines and fitting in the lyrics came quickly and easily. I’m excited to finally share this with everyone and grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with such inspiring and talented musicians.”

Bob Balch:

“I was 13 when ‘Seasons In The Abyss‘ came out. I had been playing guitar non-stop for a little over a year by then. I desperately wanted to play ‘War Ensemble‘ but it was way too fast for me at the time. I had no idea how they jumped from string to string during that verse riff. Therefore, I really enjoyed digging into this tune and finally locking in that verse riff! I also think this song is a great representation of how we approached the rest of the record. Enjoy!”

Balch also spoke of the inspiration for the project:

“The idea for the Slower project started around four years ago. I was teaching a student how to play ‘South Of Heaven‘ by Slayer but she was a beginner so we slowed it down. I thought that sounded cool so I tuned down to B standard and tried it. I added some drums and thought “someone in the doom community should do this and name it Slower.

A few years later I befriended Steven “Thee Slayer Hippy” Hanford, best known for his work as the drummer in the influential Oregon punk band Poison Idea. He was backstage at a Fu Manchu show. Oddly enough I was wearing a Poison Idea shirt and he told me that my shirt sucks.

I asked who he was and why he was in our backstage. He told me and I felt stupid. We started drinking whiskey and talking about music. We stayed in touch over the next year or so and during Covid I told him about my Slower idea. He asked me to send him tracks. I waited too long because the day I sent the tracks he passed away. Totally tragic. I’m glad I got to know him even for a few years. He was a monster musician with a giant heart.

He will be greatly missed.

I shelved the project for a while after that. One day Esben from Monolord posted about musical collaborations. I love Monolord so I thought what the hell. I sent him some tracks and he killed it on drums. So I sent more. Then more. Shortly after that we started reaching out other musicians to get them involved. That’s how we ended up with this lineup. Everyone that contributed completely knocked it out of the park and I can’t thank them enough.

This project has been a long time coming and I’m beyond stoked on how it turned out. Without all of the players involved, Steven Hanford and my baritone Reverend guitar it wouldn’t have happened. Thanks to everyone involved and I hope you dig it! I’m a giant Slayer fan so it’s been a treat to dig into these classic songs. Hopefully we can do another record in the near future. Look out for shows because they will happen!”

Esben Willems:

“When Bob first approached me with the idea and I heard his scratch guitars, my first thought was ‘This is genius.’ Those iconic tracks we all know by heart suddenly unveiled an unexpected dimension. I’m really proud of how this turned out.”

Peder Bergstrand:

“This might be blasphemous considering the circumstances, but when Bob reached out and asked if I’d want to play bass on sludged-out Slayer covers, I had to admit some of these tracks were brand new to me. That made the experience even more special though, hearing and playing on the Slower version first, and then comparing to the original. Bob has really transformed these songs into something totally their own, and on a personal level I feel the rest of the band’s insane performances pushed me to my most inspired playing to date. So incredibly stoked for people to hear this album.”

Slower” track listing:

01 – “War Ensemble
02 – “The Antichrist
03 – “Blood Red
04 – “Dead Skin Mask
05 – “South Of Heaven

Pre-orders for the album are up through

[via Metal Injection]

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