The UK based sludge/blackened death metal duo Slugdge drew a lot of the underground’s attention to itself in 2014 with their very strong sophomore record Gastronomicon. Dark and dirty grooves fused with death metal intensity and catchy choruses made Gastronomicon a memorable album that even made it into my personal top albums of 2014.
Since then, only a year has passed and Slugdge now make their return with their third effort titled Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms.
The first thing I noticed about this album was that the very distorted guitars and the overall pretty grimy production have given way to a cleaner, more compact sound that, in my opinion, doesn’t really fit the atmosphere of their music.
Their general approach to their music seems to have changed a bit as well. The riffing isn’t as groovy anymore and instead focusses on melodies and a more intricate style of play. Pretty much the entire album shows a clear rise in ambition, such as the cembalo on the opening track, the effects on The Toxic Salts and the various, short ambient outros that lead over into the following song.
However, that ambition doesn’t necessarily benefit the music, since the longer, more fleshed out compositions are less memorable than most of the material on their previous album. This only applies to the verses though, since the choruses are still incredibly catchy.
Lyrically, Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms definitely lives up to its predecessors though. The dark, lovecraftian lyrics that paint vivid pictures about Netherslugs from the lightless depths of the universe are still eloquently written and well delivered, even though some of the vocal timings are a bit off-tune to my ears.
Despite most of this album being hit-and-miss for me, it finishes quite strongly with The Chapter for Transforming Into a Slug and Unchained Malady, probably some of Slugdge’s best material so far.
The first one of those two songs is an aggressive powerhouse with some strong guitar tapping and tremolo picking throughout the song whereas the latter convinces with its apocalyptic atmosphere propelled by very tight blastbeats and topped off with an incredibly desperate and urgent guitar melody.
Overall, Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms is a good album, but it doesn’t quite live up to Gastronomicon. Some of the experimentation and further developing of their sound worked out, despite it also slightly taking away from what made them interesting in the first place. However, I’m still really excited to see in which direction they’re going to take their sound next.
Update 13.11.15: I thought about how to approach this for a while now, since I’ve never been in a situation like this before, but I think I have to change the verdict on this one. I’ve spent a lot of time on this band’s discography and I came to realize that I was a bit too quick to judge this album when it came out. It has grown on me quite a bit and I noticed a lot of things and fine details in some songs that just changed my opinion of this album.