Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology (Don’t Trick Me Please)

I've got a great idea for a horror film title, get this: When Things Get Pretentious. It's only going to scare true underground junkies (autocrats if you forgot the term), but it will be absolutely terrifying. You are about to witness, a film, about how the best and most cutting-edge of sounds can become, horribly pompous. That can be the title of the sequel right there, but maybe it can be the title of the sequel to this album, Esoteric Malacology. Wow it must be pretty advanced since they're calling it esoteric and all, please hold back now. And go ahead, look that second term up, the band knows you probably have to, hell you probably have to look up everything they're doing so you can properly tag it, but you know what, I'm not going to bother. The cover by Luke Oram is great, though, and it's far more revealing than the band's name, Slugdge, which gives you the completely wrong idea. Just look at that art again. Does it look epic as far as much as a slug can be, in space, with some arcane shit going on? Then get ready for the album of your most loathed nightmares. Third film in the trilogy's title? Probably.

  

Esoteric Malacology is a great example of the number one thing to not do in metal. Don't try to impress me, or anyone else, no one cares. Just play. The more humble the group, usually the more impressive it actually is. Slugdge, sorry, they're not sludgy at all. Let me state specifically is not sludge metal, sorry again. But that's okay, though already their cleverness is revealing the barren within (fourth film if the third can at least break even). So what is Esoteric Malacology? It's a whole bunch of nothing is what it is. Slugdge are one of the more interesting bands I've heard out of England, but once you grasp it's all just a show, it's going to turn you off. Arpeggios here, solos there, clean tapping here, echoing vocals there, a smothering of manly roars, and themes about mollusks and other ground creatures that you can't decide are serious or ridiculous, and you've got Esoteric Malacology. Slugs and such is an odd pick for a theme, and Slugdge found a way to somehow drive it to an early salt death before it even got anywhere. Sometimes bands try far too hard to extricate themselves from the herd, but seemingly arbitrary themes and excessive attempts to cause awe are one of the paths least likely to succeed. Esoteric Malacology has clearly got a lot of work put into it, but for all its riff sweeps and earthy themes it's about as impressive as an actual slug of the smallest variety. I wouldn't even give this tiger or banana slug level, it's that overtly turgid (fifth film if they make it that far). Songs like "Transilvanian Fungus" and "Salt Thrower" make obvious nods to other bands and genres, but cover their serious lyrical content with a ridiculous costume that only the naive could possibly find interesting. I can easily imagine these two head bobbing on stage with their eyes almost rolled totally back because it's just so deep, when they need to look back down to earth.

 

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Written by Stanley Stepanic

Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology
Willowtip Records
3.1 / 5