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It’s become much harder to pull off something truly unique in modern extreme music, but one thing’s certain: you can’t call Slugdge is “just another death metal band." Sure, they’ve got a sense of humor – you don’t build an entire discography about space slugs without one – but the music isn’t a joke. Since 2013’s Born Of Slime, the Lancashire duo have churned out high quality and nuanced sludge and black metal-tinged death metal that happens to deal exclusively with Lovecraftian gastropods from beyond time and space. Their fourth full-length (and first for a label, in this case the very fitting Willowtip) Esoteric Malacology elevates their signature sound to another cosmic level. It’s bombastic, almost populist in a way, and these new qualities are distilled seamlessly into “The Spectral Burrows."

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While the band is no less heavy than before, “Spectral Burrows” finds Slugdge exploring the space within their songwriting process with a fresh approach. Shades of Meshuggah, Gojira, and even Amorphis shine through the clear production work. Yes, concept albums about slugs might seem like they need to sound muddy, but these are space slugs. There’s a difference. Vocalist Matt Moss has used his clean singing voice before, but it’s a commanding presence here, and provides a more heightened distinction when he switches back to a death metal growl. As well-conceived as their previous work is, “Spectral Burrows” (and Esoteric Malacology as a whole) sounds like a focused, laser-sharp piece of art. Night Of The Creeps homages notwithstanding.

Slugdge might not be doing the big European festival circuit yet, but “Spectral Burrows” has hooks ready-made for arenas and giant crowds. If you salt it, they will come.

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Esoteric Malacology will be released March 2nd on Willowtip Records. Follow Slugdge on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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