Spaceslug: Eye The Tide

Polish heavy metal outfit Spaceslug has made quite the name for themselves in the past couple of years, releasing three full length albums and one EP since 2016. Fitting comfortably in the realm of Space Rock and Stoner Doom Metal, this trio tends to craft fuzzed out, riff heavy sonic journeys rather than songs with a discernibly standard structure. With Eye The Tide, Spaceslug continue their metaphorical exploration of the cosmos which began on their first LP, Lemanis in 2016 and continued with Time Travel Dilemma in 2017. Eye The Tide takes the band into some relatively new territories, containing a slightly darker take on their sound while maintaining and expanding their signature interpretation of the genre.

The record opens aptly with the meditative “Obsolith”, a slab of hard rock punctuated by some spacey guitar work. This track gets the record off to a competent start, presenting harmonious vocal refrains and an impressive build in the middle of the song that erupts furiously before returning to the opening progression. The track’s only shortcoming is its 8 minutes. Though not necessarily wasted time, the song doesn’t really go anywhere new in its latter portion beyond another fairly well constructed guitar solo. The more diverse “Spaced by One” could easily be mistaken for a track by Alice In Chains, given the excellent vocal contributions and some truly stellar riffing. The guitar solo at the three-and-a-half minute mark blisters distinctively and feeds the heaviest section of the song. Descending around minute five and closing out the rest of the song is a cool but repetitive riff that perhaps goes on too long without doing much. Like the ending to “Obsolith”, this doesn’t necessarily bring the track down but it again is space that could have been saved to make the record a little leaner and to keep the listening experience moving.

The album really gets going on the 9 minute “Eternal Monuments”, a song that moves lithely through several different moods and themes, never really settling too long. This is a boon to the songwriting and a treat for the listener. After a calm intro and a doomy verse section the song blasts off into a mind-blowing sequence that has the album’s most ethereal vocals and some interesting changes before the song ends, somehow too soon. The record takes a hard shift on “Words Like Stones”. Easily the heaviest track on the album, the vocal work here takes an unexpected turn from the generally soothing and atmospheric to the harsh and dynamic. The music supports this change, mixing mid-tempo churning with death metal-like blast beats. The unexpected brutality of this track makes it a true standout on the album that will have listeners wondering what in the hell just hit them.

Contrasting excellently with “Words Like Stones” is the wildly sci-fi sounding “Vialys part I & II”. The track begins peacefully, seeming to traverse an alien landscape rife with sounds and imagery that tease the listener with little shimmers and shakes. After a fun four minute excursion, Spaceslug settles into another repetitive movement. This time however it goes somewhere epic, building quickly to a burly jam that sees each member contributing some of their best work on the record. Truly something to get lost in, the way the group keeps the motif going while making slight variations is awesome and almost could have been the album closer.

That honor is given to the pseudo title track, “I, The Tide”. The outset of this ten minute monster finds the group really sinking their teeth into progressive territory. Like the excellent “Eternal Monuments” before it, “I, The Tide” is never content to sit in one spot and moves unthwarted through a sequence of ideas and expressions that are interesting and well executed. Feeling like a culmination of the album’s themes as a whole, the song expands mercurially until its final three minutes. The closing section is the record finds the band chugging heavily along while still maintaining the spaced-out guitar sound. Something of a departure from the record as a whole, this chunky turn at the end was a strange choice for a record that seemed to have an intrinsic flow throughout.

Eye The Tide is not a perfect record. Its first two tracks could have benefitted from a leaner approach to their song craft, and the production is a little less spacious than on some of their past compositions. This is good and bad, as the claustrophobic mix serves the darker, more chaotic elements of the songs. On the other hand, some of the distinct percussive sounds found on prior Spaceslug albums have been left behind for a heavier sound. For better or worse this is perhaps one of Spaceslug’s defining characteristics on Eye The Tide: they aren’t afraid to do something unexpected. This should excite fans of the band, as this album may have unlocked some unseen potential for the group to move into new realms of sound be it with the mercurial sequences found on “Eternal Monuments” and “I, The Tide”, or the incredible death metal intensity of “Words Like Stones”. After three fairly distinct albums in as many years, there’s no telling what the future will hold for this group that continues to push their own boundaries.

Rating: 7.4/10

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