Slôdder – A Mind Designed to Destroy Beautiful Things


Swedish sludge purveyors, Slôdder, have as much consideration for the good things in life as an innocent man serving a life sentence in prison. Now on their third LP after releasing two self-titled efforts in 2018 and 2021, they approached A Mind Designed to Destroy Beautiful Things with a determination to make it as imperfect and as rough as possible. Indeed, their proudest achievement on this album is how they managed to record it from start to finish in nineteen and a half hours.

Nobody can question the integrity of Slôdder, but they might question their mental health. A Swedish winter can be notorious for its acceleration of depressive tendencies in peoples’ psyche, and this is the type of music you hear in your head during the consecutive days of darkness that appear to have no end. A screech of feedback gives way to a stoner metal fuzz with a chalky bass tone and hysterical hair-over-the-face vocals in opener ‘REMFS’. It’s not pretty. The amp distortion is loud enough to awake Snow White; the microphone action is more aggressive than a Russian porn film. There will be no prizes for advanced musicianship here, but how many virtuoso bands could play music with this level of sincerity? The one-note grind of the riff at 02:10 is savage enough to make a virtue of primitive art, like the Romans made a virtue of the noble savages of Germania.

A shade of the blues in metal is now one of the most embarrassing anachronisms of modern guitar music, and Slôdder sometimes fall into its pitfalls like a middle-aged dad who forms a band and has no knowledge of any music from the last three decades. The title-track could be a Kyuss song from Blues for the Red Sun in the intro, but they switch to d-beats at the one-minute mark to save it from turning into a meme. Fortunately, the vocals are as far removed from the blues as possible – that’s a good thing. If anything, this song has more in common with Hellhammer than sludge metal. At the very least, Slôdder can help you understand the appeal of Eyehategod and prepare you for another listen through their back catalogue. The pentatonic power-play sounds much meaner under a coating of excess fuzz in ‘Shitwalker’. You’ll know if you have psychopathic tendencies if you cannot empathise with the singer’s pain.

The riffs on this album can be a bit predictable. One-finger power chords with slow pentatonic fills rely too much on the monstrous amp gain to disguise their innocuous shapes. Take ‘Warpaint’ as an example. Here, the guitarists want to party, but their vocalist wants to rip out his throat in an act of sacrifice for his doubters and detractors to see. A change of tempo brews at 01:10 but soon fizzles out like a Guy Fawkes Night sparkler. You can understand why Eyehategod made an album called Dopesick – this song feels like a horrendous cold turkey recovery. The jolting palm-muted techniques crackle under the fuzz like a shovel in wet soil. It’s instinctive to say that this track does not warrant six minutes and fifty-five seconds of your time, but maybe it does. The morbid slowdown at the end feels like you’re falling out of consciousness after taking an overdose of paracetamol.

Sludge metal is the genre for the man who drinks at the bar all night and into a stupor until he falls off his stool – nobody will pick him up off the floor. The opening bassline in ‘Bumrushed’ could be from a Tad record. It’s fat and ugly and dangerous to your health, but it feels right. Sometimes, the band don’t bother to hide their frustrations with life. ‘Still No Friends’ uses a daunting sequence of doom chords to announce the arrival of the executioner to perform his duty for the state. The bassist plays like he’s a recording artist on the early Swans records. Fans of Torpor will appreciate the emotional despair of this song. A wave of dread replaces pessimism as you grow used to the idea that your pathetic life will be coming to an end soon. Repetitive screams of “No” bring things to a close like a death row inmate screaming his innocence.

You see the human condition at its most self-destructive and neglectful on this record. Slôdder start closing track, ‘Reptile’, like junkies desperate to score. Agitated d-beats the set the scene for a collision of pentatonic blues rock riffs and crust punk vocals. It’s slow, it’s painful, it’s a shameless paean to the gratifying finality of death. Try not to nod off – you might never wake up again.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 24/11/2023

Record Label: Majestic Mountain Records

Standout tracks: REMFS, Bumrushed, Still No Friends

Suggested Further Listening: Torpor – Abscission (2023), Grandad – Allotments EP (2023), Treedeon – New World Hoarder (2023)