Slimelord – Chytridiomycosis Relinquished


Slimelord is a project that many will know as the side affair of Leeds astro tech-death darlings, Cryptic Shift, whose 2020 album, Visitations from Enceladus, is already as acclaimed as Vektor’s Terminal Redux masterpiece. Formed in 2019 and with three EPs to their name, Slimelord release their debut album via 20 Buck Spin and have no pretensions to reshape the metal mainstream. But that’s not a bad thing. Though their music is a wretched morass of noise, its avant-garde leanings will leave you rubbing your eyes.

One thing we can say is that Slimelord know how to create a sense of place the way a seasoned creative writer knows how to show rather than tell the reader what’s in their head. But that place is an infested bog. Nothing about this record is pleasant or capable of drawing a smile. Listen how an agitated cow (or cranky dog whelp) introduces a discordant guitar and an intimidating rumble of voice as the drums and bass enter like compliant conspirators in opener, ‘The Beckoning Bell’. The vocals are as dangerous as a swampy woodland. It sounds like frontman, Andy Ashworth, has a gag in his mouth and a plastic bag over his head. Beneath the surface (if you want to go that far) is a song that avoids repetition and melody the same way an absent father avoids paying for the upkeep of his child. The best description of this music is primitive death metal expanded into a complex maze of parts that seem unrelated at first. You can seldom make out the clarity of the guitars because of their sludgy amp tone, yet the bass strings chug along like a tank in the lowest gear setting.

A spookier semblance of guitar emerges from ‘Gut-Brain Axis’ with a flu-ridden vocal performance. You can hear mid-range palm-muted shapes and pinch harmonics. Imagine a sludgy interpretation of the slower songs in the Morbid Angel back catalogue. The slime lord beckons you to his altar and demands that you prostrate yourself in humility before his presence. But what dastardly things will he ask you to do in his name and to whom? There is no direction to this song, which – somehow – makes it more intriguing and less monotonous. ‘Splayed Mudscape’ hits you like a debilitating virus. Maybe this is what “long Covid” feels like? Ashworth torments his stomach to a bleach-regurgitation of deadly phlegm as if purging his guts of their function to absorb ingested food. You can hear the tech death confidence of Cryptic Shift in the bass guitar and the loose feel of the drums, but the music is opaque and deliberately so.

How abstract can you make your music with a standard set up of guitars, bass, drums, and voice? Slimelord would like to answer that with wide-eyed optimism. ‘Batrachomorpha Resurrections Chamber’ is a gothic meditation with a fetid exterior that sounds like the belch of a dying dragon until the bass and drums find a death-doom gear. Here, the guitarists, Xander Bradley and Krystian Zamojski, threaten a tremolo rhythm but hold back from unleashing the full potential of its design. Hiroshima survivors might have made similar noises beneath their melted faces and sunken eyes. By contrast, ‘The Hissing Moor’ warns you that the Yorkshire Dales at night can be a scary place for a hiker. Now, the two guitars float like deadly vapours rather than lethal weapons. It’s the closest thing to a progressive death metal song on the album with unpredictable modulations and technical formations that would not be out of place on a Portal LP. Your fate is that of the mountaineer who’s foolish enough to go walking in the fells at midnight with no torch or mobile phone.

A perpetual state of confusion might greet those less attuned with extreme metal’s obsession with sounding repulsive. Few sections of the same song repeat after one outing. No air guitar moments appear here for the traditional heavy metal enthusiast. You hope that ‘Tidal Slaughtermarsh’ might accelerate into a crusty death metal song, but it languishes in the menacing posture of a death-doom paradigm. John Riley’s bass gargles underneath the guitars like marsh gas. If post-metal creates a sense of trauma, this music aims to finish you off with a fatal bout of pneumonia. Pitch bends ache like dying ponies destined to perish through starvation.

Slimelord create hypothermic metal music that you dare not play too often, but there’s plenty to discover for those brave enough to enter with little concern for their health.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 08/03/2024

Record Label: 20 Buck Spin

Standout tracks: Splayed Mudscape; Batrachomorpha Resurrections Chamber; The Hissing Moor

Suggested Further Listening: Artificial Brain – Infrared Horizon (2017), Portal – Avow (2021), Hissing – Hypervirulence Architecture (2022)