Review Summary: EscarG.O.A.T.
Everyone's favourite invertebrate emissaries have once again brought glory to gastropods the world over, delivering what is perhaps their crowning achievement in the form of Esoteric Malacology
. Packed to the brim with menacing Mollusca propaganda, the undisputed slime-lords have further refined their signature combination of terrific riffs, crushing percussion, vociferous vocals, and…uhh…spooky snails¿
If you haven't followed Slugdge’s slick and shiny path of progressive death metal dominance up to this point, allow me to briefly summarise; it’s been awesome and you've missed out big time. The U.K. based duo have followed a steady incline in quality since the project’s already impressive impetus. Truly, the correct equation for judging a new Slugdge album is “previous album + better”, and so far this complex formula hasn't been falsified. Some notable transformations have occurred since last we were visited by our cosmic Conch-dwelling overlords. Once swamped in a slightly obscuring muck, the mix is much clearer this time around, complementing the more melodic direction opted for on this outing. This isn't to say that previously the production was inferior, nor that it’s now pristine and polished - it's simply reflective of a sonic evolution for Slugdge matched with the correct presentation. As the album cover suggests, no longer must our mucus encrusted brethren inhabit only dank and dark domiciles; instead every note, every rhythmic threat, is unabashedly exposed.
Elsewhere, the band’s iconic vocal variety abounds, with everything from guttural gurgles and monastic chants, to shrieks and possessed cleans interacting deliciously. ‘The Spectral Burrows” is an especially potent concoction of diaphragm dancing, featuring a haunting chorus paired with extended chesty drones, not so distant from the realm of throat singing. The guitar, in all its forms, unequivocally commands the soundscape here, proving especially effective when pairing intimidating low-register licks with agile lead duties that weave spiderweb patterns up and down the fretboard. Similarly to my feelings following the release of Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms
roughly two years previous, I instinctually struggle to believe there will be a way for the pair to top Esoteric Malacology
. However, since every new Slugdge album is consistently the best Slugdge album, I’ll instead pledge allegiance to the garden-munching dictators in their slow-slithering cause against heliciculture, and towards total domination.