Esoteric Malacology

Maybe it’s a bit premature, considering I am writing this review in what is still the first quarter of 2018, but for the time being, I am putting money on the U.K.’s Slugdge‘s new album, Esoteric Malacology, to be the album of the year for many a metalhead; or a contender for the title at the very least. Their first proper label debut, via Willowtip records, sees the slime and grime of  Slugdge‘s dynamic duo, Kev Pearson (guitars) and Matt Moss (vocals), really upping the ante on what was already an impressive, tried and true formula that has been crafted and honed throughout the band’s previously, and independently released, three prior albums, Born of Slime, Gastronomicon, and Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms. If you’re not very familiar with Slugdge‘s output, don’t feel too left out, as I myself really didn’t get properly acquainted with the group’s material until the always impressive and advantageous Willowtip Records, collectively packaged and re-released Slugdge‘s discography in a three-disc digipack entitled, The Cosmic Cornucopia, just a mere year ago.

To the totally uninitiated listener, imagine the most successful, brutal, and beautiful Frankenstein’s monster, crafted not of body parts, but of bands. Bands like Akercocke, Mastodon, Anaal Nathrakh, The Black Dahlia Murder, Psycroptic, Darkane, and Between the Buried and Me. Now imagine being locked in a small, windowless room with said monster, whose only goal in existing is to simply pummel you relentlessly, within an inch of your life, leaving you not only broken, but in sheer astonishment that such a being is even possible. Imagine this, in its all too inept description, and you just might have an idea of what Esoteric Malacology sounds like; and I stress might, as this thing goes beyond preconceived notions. While this is easily the most melodic album of the slime yet, don’t be fooled into thinking that means the results are any less punishing. A very tiny bit of the band’s immediate overt denseness may be missing, but if anything it has been replaced with an even more dynamically heavy aspect that really manages to bring the pain, and shows that Slugdge aren’t one to sit on their laurels when it comes to progressing their sound, albeit in minor shifting ways.

The group’s ability to create such engaging, and somewhat lengthy, compositions that never feel bloated or too drawn out is quite exemplary. The shortest track falling just seconds shy of six minutes, where the majority of the songs steer closer to a seven minute average. The fact that Slugdge can keep things interesting for the listener in a crave inducing manner is truly a testament to their talent. Esoteric Malacology is full of ingenious twists and turns, musically and vocally, so much so that pin-pointing album highlights or even specific “badass” parts of an individual song are pretty much nullified, as every song is full of these “badass” moments from beginning to end. Each track deserved of your full attention and waiting for you to proclaim your favorite. No, I will not tell you my favorite/best moments of Esoteric Malacology. That journey of discovering for yourself is a large part of what makes Slugdge such a fantastic band, and Esoteric Malacology such a fantastic album. Simply said, it’s a highlight from start to finish.

Both band and album may just be my new favorite thing happening in metal right now. The music and performance are 100% business. Tight and concise, balls out awesome metal mastery, with the group continuing and expanding on their unique and dare I say, fun, take lyrically and thematically. To newcomers, the band’s Lovecraftian influenced tales/ideology of the slimeridden Greatfather, Mollusca mixed with the band’s always cleverly pun-ny songtitles may seem odd and even surprising when the level of seriousness and intelligence within are exposed. Though Slugdge‘s members may not take themselves too seriously, like I said earlier, this is 100% serious/sincere metal business. Metal that blurs the line of madness and brilliance in the most first class ways, and will undoubtedly be a milestone in the existence of the mighty slug-lords, Slugdge themselves. 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
May 15th, 2018


  1. Commented by: Dave

    This band used to offer downloads of their albums for free on their Bandcamp page, but their music is so good that I wound up paying for them.

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