Devilishly creative UK duo Slugdge took the underground by storm last year when they dropped the wildly adventurous Gastronomicon on unsuspecting audiences, gaining something of a cult status in the process. The slug overlords impressed with their rough-edged DIY attitude, splendid genre-bending and potent, unpredictable delivery. Gastronomicon was an absolute blast of freshness full of explosive hooks and schizoid weirdness grounded by an overall cohesiveness. Well it didn’t take the combo of Matt Moss and Kev Pearson long to pump out another scattershot album of top notch extremity with their flavorsome third LP, Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms. While common threads remain between Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms and Gastronomicon, Slugdge aren’t in the business of repeating themselves or narrowing their artistic scope. As such Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms stands on its own as another weird, tripped-out journey into the strange headspace that Slugdge occupy.
There’s a healthy old school influence interwoven into Slugdge’s muscular sound, recalling tidbits from the timeless ’90s Floridian death metal scene in particular. Slugdge’s innovative songwriting approach and mutating blend of extreme styles, fusing elements of death, doom, prog, black and thrash, squashes any hint of derivation and separates them from the hordes of metal bands flooding the underground market. Sick, slimy riffs ooze ominously from the album’s pores, amid a strong presence of eerie and sinister melodies and a progressive undercurrent pulsing within. Whereas Gastronomicon had a rapid pulse and manic intensity, Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms has a more measured and refined tone, without losing grip of the eclectic nature and explosiveness of Slugdge’s brand of offbeat extreme metal. Matt Moss’ excellent vocals are on point again with another killer performance, showcasing his versatility and the all-round strength of his vocal talents. Deep guttural growls, mid-range screams and variations in-between collide with his wonderfully unsettling cleans, that are thoughtfully placed for maximum impact. His clean vocals on the highly melodic, anvil-heavy slog of the doom-laden “Pellet in the Head” are particularly memorable.
The lurching slab of polluted death and horror-movie atmosphere of the opening title track is violently punctuated with thrashy bursts of blackened intensity and soulful, grime-coated guitar work, reinforcing the structural oddities and endlessly interesting and progressive nature of Slugdge’s songwriting. Songs turn on a dime and zig when you expect them to zag, bending genres in clever and innovative ways and showcasing the duo’s impressive compositional skills and technical prowess. Repeat listens are not only essential but deeply rewarding, especially when the album’s hooks generally take longer to digest and appreciate when stacked up to the catchier immediacy of Gastronomicon. The creeping melodies, doom-death passages and spooky atmospherics dispersed throughout the album are particularly effective.
“Suffering Quahog” features pretty much everything great about Slugdge over seven-minutes plus of action-packed metal. Thick doomy riffage and deathly grooves drive the song’s first movement, before the gateways open for a spacious, soaring clean vocal passage that leads into a sparkling guitar solo. The song’s incredible second movement expertly shifts gears multiple times and even veers into ultra complex tech-death territory with stunning results. Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms lengthy duration occasionally bloats under its own weight and overall I don’t find the album quite as addictive as its predecessor, though of course that assessment could easily change in time. Otherwise these minor drawbacks are easy to overlook. Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms also benefits from an improved production job, sounding raw and unvarnished yet simultaneously clear and punchy. It’s also far less taxing on the ears with an improved dynamic range allowing the music and restless dynamic shifts more room to breathe.
Only time will tell if Slugdge decide to add another chapter to their visionary slug saga, but fingers crossed that one way or another this exciting duo continue making compelling extreme metal for many years to come. Support this excellent band and pick this sucker up as a Name-Your-Price option on Bandcamp and hail the twisted genius of Slugdge.
Tracks to check: “Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms”, “Suffering Quahog”, “Flying Snails”