Surely to disgust the hardened metal fan, Slugdge culls from some of the most abrasive modern influences as a marriage of the Devin Townsend discography, Gojira and Sikth are filtered through a lens of wow-they-just-did-that zaniness while lacking the vision of the former and the musical virtuosity of the latter. Where they do succeed is in having concrete melodic ideas instead of textural meanderings disguised as structure, and despite a technical leaning they don’t have a kitchen-sink approach as they limit the amount of themes in each song and utilize them to give each track individual character. A bulk of the musical contrasts are unfortunately developed through low chug/high abrasive chord or melody juxtapositions that every band in the genre has abused, but Slugdge manages to allow a tonally consistent melody to occasionally provide more subtext than the obvious dark/light conflict. Still, because the band walks a non-offensive line and has deliberately avoided a substantial foundation, the strengths of the release are forced into a corner as mere superficial constructs, so objective critique is rendered into subjectivity through how much the listener enjoys overproduced modern metal. Songs do maintain a sense of structural dynamics as climaxes are achieved through proper command of ebb and flow, although the emphasis on percussive flourishes and the strangled compression of the production kill any sense of organic presentation.
This overbearing sterility when coupled with the conceptually juvenile foundation echoes the worst of -core bands like Rings of Saturn, although this is far more palatable despite being a mere lateral step from it, and referencing better bands in each song title doesn’t help the band’s case- the listener may find him/herself craving the true reflection of an artist instead of a forcefed overdose of irony for an hour. If you must hear a band that makes fun of other bands in their song titles while clinging desperately across several records to a vapid foundational conceit, Cannibis Corpse is a better option. Regarding performance, there is an impressive display of musicianship and spellbinding tempos here, but this is as expected of modern metal bands as the deliberate pathos of the melodic structures. Despite the product being a slurry of hackneyed tropes, Slugdge managed to construct a somewhat unique vibe to their presentation, but it is not one that is substantial enough for timelessness nor obtuse enough for catharsis through multiple listens. It remains an hour-long appetizer for the ADD generation, suitable until the next shiny dose of irony is vomited out onto their ever-emptying plates, providing the minimum sustenance for survival while starving the host of all nutritional value in the process. Perhaps Slugdge will mature past their foundation into the realized notions that their compositional structures hint at and prevent their superficialities from strangling the brief respites of substance they stumble upon. But only in this far fetched hypothetical scenario would we observe a modern metal band escaping the doldrums of immediately gratifying yet artistically bankrupt musical expression while maintaining their identity in the process.