Slate‘s debut single ‘Tabernacl’ was a six-minute behemoth that introduced the Welsh band as a distinctive and intense new voice in British post-punk. It was defined by its swirling guitars and frontman Jack Shephard’s powerful drawl, somewhere between a Gallagher and Fontaines D.C.‘s Grian Chatten.
The track’s follow-up, ‘St Agatha’, leans a little more into lightness, though maintaining the band’s already-signature monochrome feeling. Beginning with drums right out of the playbook of Joy Division‘s Stephen Morris, Shephard tells a story of Welsh national identity with a morbid edge.
“We read about a churchyard on the border, where some people are buried with their heads in Wales and their feet in England,” the frontman explains. “It was the perfect place to tell the story of a conflicted protagonist.”
The intensity and darkness of the story – of feeling trapped between worlds and grappling with identity – is given the perfect sonic dressing on a song that’s half the length of their debut single but just as impactful. Behind those ever-present, skittish drums and Shephard’s vocals are guitars that are a little more anthemic but still have the tendency to slide away into discordant, chaotic noise.
Across their first two singles, Slate have already presented a signature sound and even more definable energy. To make music this intense while not sacrificing an inch of the power in its storytelling is a real feat.