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Slab - Megafaunal Genocide
 
Can it really be three (long) years since debut album "Betray the Past...Infect The Future" was released? That particular album still features prominently on my play list to this day, so the chance to hear the new opus nearly instilled a case of unbridled excitement....
 
Two similar acoustic guitar pieces bookend this work, with the tone and style being so redolent of Nile that I nearly checked if I'd put the correct CD in the player. Sandwiched between them though are compositions which push the envelope of extreme metal in a way that few bands are capable of. "Thylacine" is an impact opener and sets the tone well. Heavy, intricate, and fluid, it shifts through all manner of complexities whilst flowing melifluously. "Kevorkian" is next up and is another cracker, from the same mould yet vastly different at the same time. And so the album continues, as track after track of musical dexterity and opposites explodes from the speakers. Dark follows light, melody follows discordance, all done with such style and finesse that it takes a few plays to truly appreciate everything that's going on.
 
Nine of the ten tracks are beyond criticism, the odd one out being "Physeteric Faith Disaster" which seemed a little bit too angular and avant-garde to me. Much as I admire technical tracks, this seemed to transgress the discordance boundary and just missed the mark. Perhaps with repeated plays my opinion may alter?
 
Getting back to positives though there are highlights aplenty, so much so that a track by track critique is almost called for. Shorter, more direct, offerings are interspersed with the longer more technical songs, to give the album an overall balanced and mesmeric feel. "Tetradon Zombie Voodoo Ritual" concludes with a throat tearing scream that is the prelude to the violent punch in the face that is "Pigshifter". Slab save the best for last though, as "Human Rain" builds from a delicate, almost hynotic opening, before all manner of fury is unleashed.
 
Putting Slab into a category is tantamount to impossible, but avant-garde extreme metal is perhaps as close as I can get. Suffice to say there are elements of thrash, death metal, hardcore, modern prog, and grindcore blended together seamlessly that should keep all but the harshest of critics, or genre purists, happy. Throw a faultless production into the equation from the ever reliable Ajeet at Hellfire Studios and a picture should be forming of just how good "Megafaunal Genocide" truly is.
 
In conclusion this is an album that, to me at least, has everything. Quality musicianship, slicing guitar tone, immense bass work, intricate and thoughtful drumming, capped with some of the angriest vocals you are likely to hear. In amongst the fury there's enough riffs, hooks, and effortless power to make anyone happy. It's all done with an economy of effort that's bordering on scary. There are moments that are so off the wall that many bands wouldn't even contemplate attempting them, yet Slab carry them off with apparent ease. Dynamics is a word oft bandied about in the music press, yet it's the only one that's adequate to encapsulate the textures and moods that Slab convey.
 
If you liked their debut album then this one will blow you away. Get hold of a copy, crank up the volume, and marvel at how good technical extreme metal can be. Clearly this comes with my unequivocal approval - surely it's only a matter of time before record labels realise just how good Slab are?

 

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