A few months back, I wrote up the reissue of Slimelord’s first EP, The Delta Death Sirens, and about a third of my review was admittedly a further talking-up of most of these Britons’ other outfit Cryptic Shift and the strength of their tech/death/thrash debut Visitations From Enceladus. So this time, I’ll make a point not to mention either of them. *
Also like The Delta Death Sirens, Moss pulls from swampy Incantation-y and Disma-l death metal, muddy and oozing and gross, balancing squalling lead guitars and chunky riffs against crushing doomy progressions from the guitar tandem of Xander Bradley and Krystian Zamojski. Bassist John Riley glides and blurbles beneath — yes, blurbling is the technical musical term ** — adding a nice low-end counterpoint to the riffs and whammy-bar wails above. Drummer Ryan Sheperson holds the whole thing together, shifting tempos with ease, trudging and driving and imparting a certain energy to the proceedings even when they’re well into the lower range of BPMs. Vocalist Andy Thrashworth’s guttural is drenched in reverb, often an indistinct dying moan floating through the cavernous recesses of the mix.
It’s there, in that mix that lurks Moss Contamination’s only minor stumbling point: It was apparently recorded to sound like the giant gaping cave on the cover, and thus everything sports that ‘verbed-out vibe. While that’s not fundamentally a bad choice, it’s a bit overdone, occasionally robbing some of the heftier riffs of that certain tight-fisted punch by smearing the whole thing around. Take the churning roiling middle bit of the stellar “Day Of The Triffids,” where the guitars and the rhythm section can’t (or don’t) quite lock together to really hammer that tumult home. It’s not a true failure, more of a minor blip, but it is a point that could tighten up and offer a truly crushing counterpoint to the foggy atmospheric gloom around it. Sheperson’s cymbals bear the biggest brunt of the echoing smear, as they’re almost entirely obscured by the haze. Somewhere between this and the drier take of Delta Death lies the perfect Slimelord sound, but we’re not quite there.
From a songwriting standpoint, Slimelord delivers goodness, with the aforementioned “Triffids” being the best of the three real songs here. (There’s also the introductory eltitnikufesin of “Niotanimatnoc Ssom Gnittor” and a dark acoustic interlude to round out the full five tracks.) In fact, “Triffids” might be the best song on either of Slimelord’s two EPs now, although the closing track on Moss “Loretta’s Bane” gives close chase. Both alternate between crushing crunching doom and a more traditional death metal riffing style, with noisy clamorous lead guitars added as coloration. (And yes, that color is the deep rotten black-brown-green of decaying foliage.) By the time “Loretta’s” fades into nearly two minutes of crickets and swamplife sounds, it’s been a churning, if somewhat brief, journey through an underground mire, in what amounts to good ways.
If you’re a fan of the murky and the swampy side of death metal, and you’d like to spend more time in the bog ***, then Slimelord’s got you covered, so wade right in and get slimed.
Also of note, all three labels are releasing different cassette variants of Moss Contamination, each with additional exclusive audio, and the Dry Cough edition will have different artwork than the others. The artwork here is the one provided with the Dry Cough promo, which, of course, is also the audio that we reviewed.
* Well, shit.
** No, it isn’t.
** A bog in the American sense, not in the British slang sense, although what you do on your own time is your own business and there’s no judgement here. But if it’s murky and swampy in your British-slang bog, perhaps a thorough bleaching is in order.