Review Summary: A solid blackened sludge metal album made even better by its sense of humor.
Sometimes, a genre just has to have fun with itself. It doesn’t have to be straight-up parody, but every now and then, an artist should be able to come along and make the music both funny and high quality. Unfortunately, extreme metal has had a lack of such musicians for most of its history. Some bands, such as Immolation and Morbid Angel, are fantastic, but they’re not really “fun” to listen to. Others, such as Torsofuck and Anal Cunt, are downright hilarious, but it’s the terrible quality of their music that makes it so funny. Few, if any, have managed to cross between humor and quality within the more extreme genres of metal. Enter Slugdge: A blackened sludge metal project from Lancashire, England, that bases their image and albums off of a story of giant, alien slugs conquering Earth. The concept alone is chuckle-worthy at the least. And with their sophomore album, Gastronomicon
, Slugdge have managed to create a both hilarious and well-composed album that breaches the gap separating comedy from high-quality, extreme metal.
The first thing you’ll notice is that all of the song titles are actually puns of other songs. Some will instantly ring a bell (“The Sound of Mucus”, “The Dark Side of the Shroom”), while others will strike a chord with bigger metal fans (“Salters of Madness”, “Lettuce Prey”, “Slimewave Zero”). Lyrically, the songs follow traditional death metal lingo, with overly complex buildup that ultimately has no further meaning, combined with the dark comedy of the space slug story. With such lines as, ”Twisted maladous melodies which create and destroy /through a ritual of blood in a valley of doom /he assumes human form on an altar of shrooms”
, the band gives off the impression that they can get a laugh from their audience, but they’ll simultaneously confuse the hell out of them in the process. The instrumental work is surprisingly good, with doomy, sludgy riffs being countered by aggressive drums and bass. The vocals are also varied, from mournful singing to menacing screams and growls. And most of all, the production job is excellent, allowing for all of the different components of the music to come together in a clear and concise way, without sounding overproduced. It clocks in at just over forty five minutes long, making it just long enough so it doesn’t abruptly stop or drag on past its welcome.
Ultimately, the biggest thing that works in the album’s favor is that as serious as the music may sound at times, the concept and lyrics always manage to lighten up the mood, in addition to making what would’ve already been an excellent album even more enjoyable. And as a free download on Bandcamp, there should be no excuse for extreme metal fans not to give this one a spin. Even if it doesn’t get too much of a laugh out of you, at the least it’s an interesting and intriguing take on a genre that hasn’t seen something new in years.