UK death/doomers Slimelord rise from the swamps with debut album Chytridiomycosis Relinquished. You may need Wellies for this one.

Release date: March 8, 2024 | 20 Buck Spin | Bandcamp | Facebook

One of my favorite things in metal lately has got to be when lauded death metal musicians start up death/doom spin-offs. Several members of cosmic death powerhouses Blood Incantation have been killing it (albeit slowly) in the churning morass of Spectral Voice. Members of Tomb Mold and Innumerable Forms somehow saw fit to grace us with the beauty of Dream Unending, whose second album is one of my favorite metal releases in recent memory. And now, several members of UK thrashy progressive death upstarts Cryptic Shift (with some outside help) are releasing their debut album as Slimelord. And once again, the change of pace works wonders.

Right off to the bat though, it has to be said that Chytridiomycosis Relinquished is a plain weird album right down to the title. Apparently chytridiomycosis is a term for a fungal disease that’s been causing great damage to amphibian populations worldwide (in case you didn’t think death metal could teach you anything). The cover, another slam dunk from artist Brad Moore, is incomprehensible but also just plain awesome-looking. And once the intro sample of goose honks plays out, Slimelord just washes you over in gross, queasy cavernous death doom awash in queasy psychedelia. It’s just a real trip, through and through.

It’s also an album with a great sense of pacing front to back, and the progressive roots of the members shine through very well. Using the opening track “The Beckoning Bell” was a great move, because it does a great job showcasing the many elements Chytridiomycosis Relinquished thrives on. Slow doomed dirges clash off against frenetic charges and spidery guitar that any number of technical or dissonant death metal bands would envy. More spacious moments emerge and shine in a shining kaleidoscope of melting light. It’s a worthy overture that lets you know there’s a lot to unpack in Slimelord’s strange world.

That note about progressive elements is honestly one of my favorite surprises Chytridiomycosis Relinquished delivered me. Second track “Gut-Brain Axis” runs a gamut of feelings before it’s even reached it’s halfway point, bearing Timeghoul-esque narrations, twangy clean guitars and droning atmosphere redolent of diSEMBOWELMENT, and vaguely carnivalesque moments anchored with ear-grabbing trills. “Splayed Mudscape” swaggers out with a loping riff and cool phased guitars, while “Batrachomorpha Resurrections Chamber” (quite the mouthful!) begins somewhere between post-rock and full on funeral doom metal. Shifting atmospherics are a constant, and almost every single track is as formless as the murk and mud that the song titles evoke.

It even sometimes feels like Slimelord goes out of their way to make sure their songs don’t follow an obvious route, and that no payoff comes too soon. My own personal favorite song “Tidal Slaughtermarsh” begins on the promise of some serious aggression before diverting to a lurching trudge before flying off the handle several minutes later. And on a song like “The Hissing Moor”, Slimelord changes their approach so often that you’d expect other bands to make a full EP out of a single track’s ideas. Chytridiomycosis Relinquished isn’t necessarily a short album at 47 minutes, but it’s packed to its muck-caked gills with ideas, riffs, and atmosphere. Listeners could almost feel like they’ve listened to several albums by the time the oddly emotive march of “Heroic Demise” plays out, but it also feels like the album’s passed by in a flash.

The atmosphere of Chytridiomycosis Relinquished is just as thick as the material, and it’s helped along in no small part by the marvelous mixing and mastering of Damian Herring of Horrendous fame. The musicianship is phenomenal throughout, be it the Cannibal Corpse-esque, trilling guitars of “The Hissing Moor”, the ceaseless drumming that propels “Tidal Slaughtermarsh”, or the swerving bass that anchors “Splayed Mudscape”. And that’s not even getting into the fact that the album credits include allusions to members providing leaf rustling, tree branches, and detuned piano. Top it all off with some powerhouse caverncore vocals, and there’s not a piece out of place.

Slimelord is swinging for the fences with Chytridiomycosis Relinquished. It’s a bold debut, but the history of the musicians involved left me pretty certain they’d succeed in this project as well. And they damn well have, pretty much crafting the follow-up to Worm‘s Foreverglade that I’d been hoping for, but with numerous twists of their own. Of course, death/doom is a genre that doesn’t always translate to regular listening, but Slimelord has enough going for them here that I’d imagine many listeners will feel compelled to revisit it time and again, not in the least to decipher the storyline the band has constructed. Chytridiomycosis Relinquished is going to leave you muddied and bloodied, but the slog through Slimelord’s otherworldly mire will turn up all sorts of great discoveries. Good luck getting all that muck out of your ears, though.

Band Photo by Bradley Lightfoot

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