Slugcrust – Ecocide Review

Ecocide, the debut from Slugcrust, was a difficult album to write about. The brevity, genre and unrelenting frenzy made for a somewhat complicated but altogether illuminating reviewing effort. Not only was I called to deliver a verdict on the quality of the album, but I found myself asking some very basic questions about the nature of reviewing itself: should I base my conclusions on my personal views without taking into account the context of the style of metal in question? Or should I instead grade on a curve, remembering that one of the album’s shortcomings is perhaps also one of the genre’s founding principles? All these questions and more went through my head as I spun Slugcrust’s Ecocide, the aptly-named grindcore outfit hailing from South Carolina (sharing members with Wvrm) and specializing in filling reviewers with self-doubt and second-guesses.

Slugcrust let their muck-flecked grind flag fly. From the breakneck speed to the wham-bam brevity to the lyrical themes (think more Napalm Death than early Carcass), you know what you’re in for: a musical bludgeoning with no time in between the flurry of punches to duck the assault. However, these crusted slugs were kind enough to infuse their debut with a few doses of death and doom, caked with a foreboding, blackened crust for good measure. Taken together, theirs is an approach that maintains the album’s momentum without wholly giving into monotony. While grind isn’t a personal favorite, I was impressed by how quickly this group’s maniacal yet cohesive approach made me reconsider how I dole out that all-important score sitting lonely and forgotten at the bottom of this page. 

It’s at this stage in the review where I’d start reeling off album highlights (our lowlights), favorite songs and stand-out moments. And while there are certainly successes, it’s hard to view this album as an enumerated list of ten individual songs. The tracks are so short, with guitar feedback and whole riffs from the tail end of one directly melding into another, that Ecocide feels less like a collection of cuts and more like a big cohesive tune with a series of sparse transitions. That being said, opener “Demise Promise” is promising, setting the tone for the rest of the album with a thick n’ heavy mid-paced riff that bounces between grind insanity and groovy chugs, alongside vocals of the blackened shriek and deathened growl variety. “Buzzard Czar” also introduces a helpful hallmark on Ecocide: while the drums and vocals blast off at light speed, the guitar serves as the musical anchor, trudging away on a big wall o’ riff and holding down the fort while the skins and vox rip up the carpet and punch holes in the wall. “Echoless” introduces perhaps the most memorable line on the album, repeatedly shouted at the song’s culmination (“Oblivion cannot be oblivion without us!”) and the brutal slams that begin on “Juris Domina” and bleed over into the titular “Ecocide” are as effective as they are unexpected. These moments, though, are best experienced not within their solitary songs, but instead as a unified, album-wide whole. 

It’s easy to listen to Slugcrust’s debut all at once; to take it all in during one sitting and then go about your day. It’s heavy, angry, short and not-so-sweet. In that way, Ecocide is a success, especially as a grind album. Unfortunately, even within the tight runtime, there are songs like “No Heirs / Dead Souls” and “Arachno-Mariticide” that not only become part of the background noise, but get lost entirely. It happens across the album: brief, repetitious songs that go by in a flash without leaving much of an imprint save for a lyric, a riff, or a chug here and there. Is that a grindcore requirement? Is the focus here for the final product to be greater than the sum of its parts? I’m still not sure, but even after multiple listens, I find myself enjoying the ride without remembering much of what I saw out the window.

As I said before, this was a hard album to review. So much of what I understand (or maybe don’t understand) about grind are the same things that turned me off and lowered the overall score. Ecocide makes for a lively, frenetic and fist-pumping listen, but I’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint a favorite song or a beloved track I’d include on a playlist. Slugcrust’s debut is an easily-forgettable but ultimately powerful partner to tag along while finishing a task or running an errand. Beyond that? I can’t quite remember.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR:  | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: slugcrust.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/SLUGCRUSTSC
Releases worldwide: September 9th, 2022

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