Diversity and originality, while a great concept in the theory of songwriting, is one thing to commit to, but to see it to fruition is an entirely different matter. Making music your own requires a certain magic, persistence, and innate ability to pace ones self.
So with that template in mind, Slagduster has made it a mission to make their mark in metal with their own unique stance. The press release for their new album Deadweight states “For fans of Gojira, Sikth, Meshuggah, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Between The Buried And Me”. Now take all those bands, who’s point is to make unsafe music that challenges, and it can make the mouth water at the thought of a newer band putting themselves in that league. Does it translate as such? Well let’s delve in and see.
‘Soldiers Of Meth’ opens up the album with frantic instrumentation, and after about a minute, harsh vocals join in. Much like the title of the song, this jam is probably akin to how a tweakers brain bounces around while waiting for that next fix. Interesting. ‘Peeping Ron’ features an opening that reminds me of a technical metal take on swing music. You can actually bob your head to this, which is quite a feat in and of itself for the type of music they’re playing. The groove is solid as hell while maintaining their core composition ideals. ‘Profane Puppet’ gives us lots of stop/start pieces, with particular detail to making demented time signatures as the focus. ‘Mother’s Milk’ on the other hand shows the band doing their best to meld a thrash sensibility with their own directive.
However after the strong first half of the album, I start to lose patience with the idea of the band generating a sound that stays consistent. Unpredictable is the best word to explain Slagduster’s sound. Just when you think you know where they’re going, they switch things up just before you have them pegged and figured out. While this can be an endearing quality to many other bands when used correctly, this quartet suffers from the opposite problem. The frustrating thing for me is the band waits till the end of the album to give us ‘Untouchable’; a track that actually comes across as one of the more complete and focused pieces on this album, which makes me wonder why they’re closing out the album so strong when it was so jumbled and unfocused preceding this.
As for positives, you can’t pin Slagduster’s sound as being identical to just one of their contemporaries. They have their own groove and niche that they’re trying to carve out, which is damn near impossible in a technical/prog metal world that in most cases has seen almost every type of innovation come along. They play with an exciting and tight syncopated approach, which I appreciate. All players involved are talented and play with a great passion. Let me be clear that the problem I have with the songwriting isn’t lack of talent, riffs or complexity, because the band has all this in spades. The main problem to me is that the music comes across as jumbled and not particularly memorable, which is a real shame. I like their base ideal of having a groove metal sound that goes off the rails with technical proficiency, but I feel like they try to cram as many ideas into one song as possible. Some bands can take complexity to a great level if they use it properly, much like old school Protest The Hero, who had it down to a science on their early albums. It’s entirely possible that Slagduster can also accomplish this in the future, but for now they need to slow down a tad and let the songs breathe a bit.
I hear lots of promise in these lads, and in my heart I do want to fawn all over this, but they need the maturation process of songwriting to fully take hold of their creativity. There’s some interesting stuff going on here, now let’s see some progress for the next effort.
01. Soldiers Of Meth
02. Peeping Ron
03. Profane Puppet
04. Mother’s Milk
05. Mushroom Stomp
06. On All Fours
07. Cheer Up Clown
08. Ivory Into Coal
Playing Time: 41:31
Shane Sherman – Vocals
Guitar, Alex Huber – Lead Guitar
Zak Waterlow – Bass
Joe Northcott – Drums