Saturday 6 May 2023

SLUGG ~ ORICHALCUM .... review

We have brought a few Italian bands to your attention over the years, most of them heavy, some of them psychedelic and some of them both heavy and psychedelic. The one we bring you today hail from Rome and go by the collective name of SLUGG a band that fall very much into the latter category, albeit spliced with a little metallic prog colouring and post-metal ambience. SLUGG are Jacopo Cautela (guitar/vocals); Stephen Drive (bass) and Valerio Libera (drums/guitar/vocals), the trio first contacted Desert Psychlist in January of 2022 to ask if we would be prepared to pen a few words in support of their debut single "Yonder", we explained to them that although we loved the song our policy was to only review EP's and full albums and so asked them to reconnect with us when they had something more substantial we could get our teeth into. In many cases that is the last we hear from a band but to their credit SLUGG picked up the gauntlet and delivered that substance and so today we are pleased to be introducing you to "Orichalcum" the bands first full album, and on the strength of the music it contains therein, hopefully not their last.

"Orichalcum" begins its journey with the aforementioned "Yonder" a song that impressed us as stand alone single and continues to impress in its full album setting. The songs laid back and atmospheric intro of ringing guitar chords chiming over low slung  grumbling bass and pounding percussion slowly evolves to become a circular desert flavoured groove tinted with eastern flavours and prog-metal textures that is then decorated with a disharmonious mixture of guttural growling and clean crooning that in theory shouldn't work but in practice ultimately does. "Opal" follows and here we find the band jamming a groove that utilises everything from eastern tinted grunginess to blackened doominess and sees clean vocal melodies and low gravelled growls routinely being traded and entwined on its intelligently composed verses, the songs blending of beauty and brutality truly breath-taking and at times utterly mind-blowing. For "VagrantSLUGG tone things down a little, musically this song has a  more restrained post-metal feel but don't be fooled into thinking restrained relates to relaxed as this is as intense and as heavy as anything you have witnessed on this album thus far. Final number "Bloodhound" is epic in every sense of the word, its moments of beauty are spinetingling its episodes of intense heaviness are crushing and brutal, it is the perfect finale to an album that over its four song duration has not once come even close to dropping below excellent! 

SLUGG's "Orichalcum" is something special, it is an album that both swaggers and swoons, it has moments of intense heaviness but counters that heaviness and intensity with moments of poise and calm, those opposing dynamics creating a balance of musicality that you can both get lost in and be brutalised by.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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