Review Summary: May Mollusca have mercy upon your soul.
Snail-worshipping death metal giants Slugdge have returned, emerging from the shell once again to threaten humanity and eardrums alike. Barely a year after releasing their highly-acclaimed Gastronomicon
in mid 2014, it would be an understatement to say that these U.K. based musicians have released a worthy follow-up. Characterised by its crushing blend of black and death metal styles, as well as the aforementioned fixation on Gastropod overlords, Slugdge’s latest masterpiece is certainly worthy of attention and commendation.
Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms
sees Slugdge expand on the territories they explored through albums previous, maintaining their signature sound while experimenting with a more atmospheric approach, and the addition of electronically synthesised embellishments. Kicking things off is the eight and a half minute behemoth of a title track; this, the longest song in Slugdge catalogue, is handled spectacularly. Immediately the band introduce the album with an industrial-sounding electronic piece coupled with a foreboding, bass-y drone. The somewhat incongruous mixture creates a simultaneously upbeat and disconcerting feeling, foreshadowing the apocalyptic destruction to come and giving way to fast-paced riffing. It's almost impossible not to notice the exceptional production right off the bat. Every element of Slugdge's immense sound is distinct and crisp, and although their sonic quality is thick and sludgy by nature, this doesn't prevent clarity from prevailing. Throughout the album, the drumming remains punchy and rich, the bass guitar oozes and gurgles beneath, and the guitars slice through the centre. Atop this steady foundation punctuates three distinct vocal styles. This lends the band a welcome variety in delivery, something that most of their contemporaries can't hope to match. A combination of growling and black metal-esque screaming take the brunt of the duties, while clean vocals, in a style reminiscent of Enslaved’s Grutle Kjellson, smooth things over periodically.
The songs are on the long side, but this is a territory in which Slugdge are completely comfortable. Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms
never seems to drag or feel tiring, as Slugdge take advantage of every minute they take up. Lyrically, the content is simultaneously ridiculous and legitimately horrifying. Complex and intelligent phrases are juxtaposed with the placid and completely unthreatening snail imagery, but if these supposed otherworldly invaders were somewhat more sinister creatures, then perhaps the darkness of the imagery might elicit terror rather than mere intrigue. As it is, they serve as a vessel for some well thought out misanthropic phrases nonetheless. Another area where this album excels is on the songwriting front. From the Opeth-sounding melodic riffs on ‘Spore Ensemble’ to the speedy tremolo picking and palm-muted heaviness of ‘Suffering and Quahog’, variety is plentiful. Even ‘The Chapter for Transforming into a Slug’, with its bouncy electronic element and rhythm heavy style, is a downright headbanger.
Slugdge have once again managed to create a thoroughly satisfying album packed full of eye-stalk shaking riffs and fast-paced blackened death metal. Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms
serves as an excellent follow up to Gastronomicon, managing not just to live up to the high expectations that album set, but to surpass them.