And the Winner of the ToH Community AOTY 2K18 Is…
It was inevitable, really. Longtime readers won’t be surprised by the overwhelming love our community has for our 2K18 AOTY winner.
Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology
That’s right, the little slug band that could has finally seized the throne, and, Mollusca willing, will soon drown this wretched planet in holy slime. What really strikes me, upon reflection, is just how far this band has come. I remember clicking an article on Metalsucks way back in the early 2010’s about a joke, slug-themed duo that wrote silly (albeit clever) metal pun titles centered on slimy gastropods. I dug their theatrical approach to an often far too self-serious genre, but I mostly just filed Born of Slime away as a novelty to be revisited for a laugh.
Then in 2014, the duo released Gastronomicon an album we praised and joked about in equal measure here in the early days of Toilet ov Hell. Yet even on Gastronomicon, it was evident that Matt (vocals) and Kev (instruments) were really on to something special here. Their songwriting had improved substantially; the riffs were tighter and the atmosphere bolder. More importantly, however, they had a unique angle, something that helped them stand out from the pack.
Ever the workmen, Matt and Kev released Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms to ever growing acclaim just one year later, and in the process befriended a lot of the Toilet ov Hell community (probably to Matt’s chagrin as I frequently bother him to play better video games). We were all enamored with D&SK, and we weren’t alone. Practically no one in the metal community could deny the duo’s bombastic songwriting, frequently featuring cultic chants and unpredictable musical right-turns, and the record appeared prominently in ToH 2K15 year end lists. Willowtip Records took notice, too, and it wasn’t long before our friends were scooped up by the death metal label du jour and offered a fancy repress of their first three records.
Still, it was pretty incredible hearing Toilet pal Schmitty describe finding Esoteric Malacology in the slimy flesh in his local record shop (with a nice little shout out to Toilet ov Hell in the liner notes). Matt and Kev had, through their peerless vision, tireless effort, and acerbic wit, transformed themselves from a living meme to an internationally acclaimed powerhouse. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Esoteric Malacology features the band’s strongest material to date – with Matt flexing his vocal range and Kev crafting even more unhinged guitar passages. If you remain unconvinced, just listen to the massive passage that starts at about 5:57 in “Putrid Fairytale;” here you can see firsthand everything that makes Slugdge so beloved. Kev’s dense, multilayered guitar tracks are simultaneously crushing and catchy, working in the space of precision drums and subtle choral effects to cast a spell of grandeur so rare in this genre. Matt works double time ranging from clean sung maledictions to acid-spitting growls, bellowing forth the curses of Mollusca itself. It’s a singular, glorious moment on an album full of incredible musicianship. And now, armed with a full band, the terrors of Mollusca will soon be unleashed upon the living masses.
As with Winds of Leng last year, it feels good to give back to the bands who’ve come up with us, and the overwhelming vote majority (seriously, it wasn’t even close) you all gave Slugdge seems to indicate that the community feels the same way. Slugdge are our friends, but they’re also masterful musicians who’ve made the kind of definitive statement most artists will spend their entire careers chasing. So congratulations, Slugdge. You guys deserve it.
But don’t just take my word for it. I asked our resident Tech expert Spear to share his thoughts.
That Slugdge won the community vote for album of the year is entirely unsurprising while also being proof that good things do still happen from time to time. The long standing Toilet darlings upped their already impressive game substantially on Esoteric Malacology, bringing their musical storytelling and smart riffing together in ways that few bands can pull off. Unique ideas in music are few and far between anymore, and that this album is so full of them ensures that Mollusca’s gooey glory will shine upon us for many years to come.
The entire top 10:
10. Oxygen Destroyer – Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death
9. Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light
8. Chapel of Disease – …And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye
7. YOB – Our Raw Heart
6. Panopticon – The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness
5. Horrendous – Idol
4. Sleep – The Sciences
3. Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
2. Tomb Mold – Manner of Infinite Forms
1. Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology