Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Slugdge – Gastronomicon (2014) / 92%

All hail our intergalactic slugs overlords

And beneath the shattered sky the earth will grieve / except for man, who shall be granted no reprieve

This British duo released a surprisingly great album last year with Born of Slime and they're already back for more slug metal with Gastronomicon. Don't misunderstand the humorous aura the band has for lack of depth and content since the band is as rich and deep as one could be. Matt Moss' lyrics of lovecraftian slug proportions are excellent. Evil, poetic and over the top, they pay homage to omniscient mollusks and I mean, what could be more original than that? It's not another yet cryptic satanic cosmic cavernous album and we should all be grateful for that. Remove your black sunglasses and your bullet belt and laugh a little.

Like many projects nowadays, Slugdge (I can't think of a better word to describe them) is mixing innumerable styles to create a potent and quite interesting concoction. The guitars can be crushing, melodic and spastic and always play something vivid and intelligible. The death/sludge/black metal mix could seem chaotic at first but the whole thing is coherently and cunningly put together. There's  a good balance between longer numbers (the seven minutes title track is immense) and shorter, no less awesome numbers like “Slimewave Zero” and the album doesn't overstay its welcome and leave you asking for more.

Mixing the early sludge attack with complex drumming of Mastodon, the progressive extreme metal explorations of bands like Edge of Sanity or Arcturus with hints of old school death, brutal death and probably some more influences. The duo obviously doesn't want to do simplistic things and they achieve to do everything they wanted to do with this second opus.

The main element that made me fall in love with Slugdge is definitely the vocals, Moss' combination of blackened death growls with clean vocals can immediately recall the great Dave Hunt of fellow English black/grind overlords Anaal Nathrakh. The way the clean verses are brought in the songs are truly inspired by them  and I'm totally fine with that since this is by far my favourite element of albums like Hell Is Empty, and All the Devils Are Here. These powerful clean vocals are, to my joyful reaction, essential moments in every songs but the aggressive, vitriolic extreme metal is never overshadowed. Quite the opposite, the amalgamation of both gives an occult demeanour to Gastronomicon.

Production-wise, it's stronger than the debut, the guitars are tighter, the vocals more at the forefront and a bit less buried. Self produced, the album is solid, well composed and professional and I cannot fathom why they're still unsigned.

Most of the time, metal should not be taken that seriously and that's also a doctrine shared by these guys, like on their debut (with “Eyehatesalt”), there's once again a title that parodies one of their influences called “Salters of Madness” and I find that utterly funny. English humour is clearly the best! Ornamented by another sublime romantic inspired slug art, you just can't go wrong with that, it's showcasing the classic metal side of the band but with a new, modern and imaginative side. One of the best albums of 2014, I welcome my new slug lords with open arms.

"Pay what you can" for the album on Bandcamp
Slugdge's slugbook page

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