Slimelord, “Chytridiomycosis Relinquished”
By Brad Sanders · March 07, 2024 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Cassette, Vinyl LP

Chytridiomycosis has been an existential threat to amphibian populations all over the world since its discovery in 1993. Caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the disease infects the permeable skin of frogs and related species, making it impossible for them to regulate water absorption. The animal then essentially dies of a heart attack. According to a 2019 study in Science conducted by Ben Scheele at the Australian National University, chytridiomycosis has caused the decline of 501 amphibian species. As Scheele told The Atlantic, “It rewrote our understanding of what disease could do to wildlife.”

That’s a fitting backdrop for the brand of doom-encrusted death metal that UK band Slimelord debut on Chytridiomycosis Relinquished. After the chorus of field-recorded frogs opens the record, the band set the scene: “Chytridiomycosis, sickened land/ Swallowed in amphibious eclipse.” This music is dark, complex, vividly alluvial, and more than a little diseased. The twisting, dissonant riffs on feel like they’ve been dredged up from the contaminated muck of some failed planet. The real horror comes when you realize the planet is ours.

Three members of Slimelord also play in the sci-fi-themed death-thrash band Cryptic Shift, and Chytridiomycosis Relinquished offers an oozing, terrestrial alternative to that band’s outer space explorations. The album is dense and squirming with life, but the cleanly articulated mix by Damian Herring (Horrendous) lets each constituent element shine. That means John Riley’s roiling, double-time bassline at the end of “Splayed Mudscape” is treated with as much importance as the synths and wildlife samples that arrive at the climax of “Gut-Brain Axis,” and both feel every bit as crucial as the guitars providing much of the music’s thrust. There’s an invigorating immediacy to Chytridiomycosis Relinquished that never wavers, no matter how atmospheric or progged-out Slimelord get.

Slimelord’s lyrics are a Lovecraftian stew of horrors, both earthly and chthonic. In these songs, the natural world looms as a font of wonder with a churning undertow of terror. “A phthalate chalice gasps for air as the elder swamp emerges from deep fathoms,” frontman Andy Ashworth moans on the excellently titled “Tidal Slaughtermarsh.” It’s an image that encapsulates the writhing, rotting world Slimelord conjure; a world in which a frog can be called upon to provide guest vocals for a death metal album, or can be eradicated by a relentless fungal disease.

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