Crawling forth from Leeds, England, Slimelord are a death doom quintet who formed at the beginning of last year. Their demo The Delta Death Sirens came out last November but shows no sign of losing any potency any time soon. In just under 18 minutes, Slimelord demonstrate on The Delta Death Sirens with grace and brutality the full realm of possibility within the death doom subgenre. Slimelord’s 4-track demo has layers like a catacomb, lots of unpredictable, energy-intensifying tempo shifts, and so much atmosphere you can practically smell the swamp fumes.
We caught up with Xander Bradley, one of Slimelord’s guitarist, to learn how this monstrous demo came together.
“Our first time jamming together as Slimelord was only in January 2019,” Xander writes. “Me and Ryan [Sheperson, Slimelord’s drummer] [have] been heavily involved in music already through our main band Cryptic Shift. Our buddy Andy [Thrashworth, vocalist] was always hoping to get some project together with us. I personally had dabbled in writing some tracks in a more straight-forward death detal style for years, but never got round to getting a side-project off the ground. So due to the very lengthy recording and mixing process for the upcoming Cryptic Shift album, we found some time to finally form Slimelord.”
Xander goes on to say that “nobody we know is doing anything in this murky death metal realm within the UK, especially in Leeds. Krystian [Zamojski, guitarist] was a fairly new acquaintance of ours and was also eager to play music with us, so we had him join us at the first rehearsal. Krys actually brought in some evil tones from his interest in black metal, which you can hear in his lead during the final riff of ‘Horrible Bog.’ There’s also an outro section in a track we didn’t include on our first release with one of his riffs that’s based around a minor chord arpeggio that totally wouldn’t be out of place on a black metal album. Honestly, none of us really listen to any doom at all, most of us are 100% thrashers. I think it’s the musical connection between myself and Ryan from playing the intricate and demanding Cryptic Shift material that became a huge factor in the ease of our sound falling into place; it’s also the reason we brought John Riley (bass) in very early. Though it totally began as a basic death metal band for fun, we quickly became addicted to the worlds we were creating in our songs and latched onto the powerful atmosphere so that it wasn’t just some dumb side project. We want to put everything into the performances and sound so that it’s unique and meaningful.”
Xander’s not shy about admitting what band that inspired Slimelord’s style of massive and menacing death metal the most. “DISMA,” he says. “Disma 100%. Towards The Megalith is definitely a near-perfect record and during the first rehearsal they were the only reference point I had as none of us really had any idea of what kind of music we would create. I just knew I had to make those Disma-style trills a staple of our sound because they felt so right when piecing together oozing slime riffs. The album cover for that release too is absolutely just as much to accredit our sound to, we wanted to create a soundtrack to accompany the grim Fangorn Forest-style woodland and infested swamps that surrounded the eerie jungle temple. Art pieces like that evoke such wonder and make you imagine a whole world instantly. The spectacular mountain view with the expansive marshlands spread out in front of it. Those antediluvian carvings looming from the structure. And what are those priests getting up to in the megalith? Who’s in the coffins they’re carrying? Where is the massive procession of people coming from? The trees look sinister and alive when you look down that corridor of branches crawling down and lingering over the crowd… Mesmerising.”
Xander says the theme behind Slimelord started back when they were only talking about someday forming a death metal band. “We always joked about ‘oh when are we gonna have the first Swamp Rat rehearsal?’ or whatever,” he remembers. “I think we were also close to being called Swamplord (amongst others) at some point. So the slime theme has been lingering for an age, probably stemming from Morbid Angel’s fascination with slime on Domination. To add in something about our odd doom sound, our riffing style may have been us trying to chime in some of Trey’s low and crawling 7-string swamp-riffs. Andy is also very immersed in nature and the animal kingdom and collects various ant species, including recently: Odontomachus brunneus trapdoor ants, which have the fastest predatory strike in the animal kingdom at 145mph! I can see tales of demon swamp ants being incorporated into a future release!”
“Amphibia” is one of the more unique tracks on the album. With its helicopter-sounding opening tremolo riff that bursts into something you might have heard Paradise Lost play in the mid-90s. Eventually it makes its way into a twisted Autopsian romp through deadly sludge and thick, green-black murk. It’s hard not to get sucked down into this track and stay there forever. A major highlight on a demo full of jaw-droppers. Xander explains the concept behind “Amphibian” as such: “My forearms engulf in boils and pus. The 10ft fall into a soggy pit was unfortunate, as I dropped my sack of herbal remedies. I found an escape through claustrophobic tunnels, but ganglion flora caught my skin. I burst from a jungle fumarole panting heavily, the toxins had bonded with many haemoglobin; hissing gas spews from the stings, which meant a foul demon would be following the scent… Dusk became night and luminous mushrooms lit the opening in a green aura. Their light flickered from the crawling of insectoids. Now hideous bellowing rumbled the stalks and my illness had incapacitated me; encumbered by the weight of the gargling boils. I awaken from a blackout, maybe hours later and all I feel is slime. From where I was there was no escape, only an excruciating eternal linger. For a thousand years I would be part of a digestive bog within the stomach of the demon toad Amphibia!”
It should come as little surprise that Slimelord are pulling inspiration from beyond the world of other death metal bands. Xander says, however, it’s mostly just “reptiles, frogs, [and] Dark Souls” which serve as an inspiration for Slimelord’s concepts. “Myself, Andy and Ryan play [Dark Souls] together a lot; some very intense times have been had trudging through the mud of Farron Keep desperately searching for a purple moss clump to halt the spread of poison so that we don’t pass out and sink slowly to the bottom of the Farron basin to be eaten by BOG parasites. The expansive lore is fascinating and with enemies like ‘The Curse Rotted Greatwood,’ ‘Elder Ghru’ and ‘Rotten Slugs,’ it helped us shape The Delta Death Sirens story. A massive point would be that Andy works in the research of infectious diseases. There, a heavy theme of disease, poison and nature definitely seeped in. On top of this to further attribute Andy, he currently studies animal biology and ecology. Because of this we believe in being against barbaric fishing practises and mass pollution. We often take treks into the local woodlands and seeing plastic and litter tossed into the bushes by some dumbass is infuriating. Here, an interest in the swampland zoology combined with the desire to promote wildlife conservation merged with death metal.”
Slimelord’s demo came out sounding monolithic and dripping with funky death. According to Xander, the demo sounds like where it was recorded. “We went into a dingy and damp basement of CHUNK for a couple hours one night and recorded everything live as if we were in rehearsal,” says Xander. “Solos and Vocals were added after. Again with recording Cryptic Shift being a very intricate and painstaking activity, we wanted a really horrid and raw sound to convey being tangled in a vine while Hemlock cone snails slowly wiggle up to eat your brain whole. The thick boggy sound could be credited to a few things: The loose sounding fretless bass; with John tuning down to C# on strings usually used in Eb, makes totally minging vibration like a gurgling toad sucked into the depths of a cavern. Krystian’s tone comes from an amp that honestly can’t reach the required gain levels that my EVH achieves without the addition of a pedal, so after toggling the various EQ options it comes through as an extremely muddy and sputtering noise which is coincidentally perfect for us. For my playing, I play guitars in Eb tuning, however (for Floyd Rose intonation convenience) I use a Digitech whammy pedal, pulling me way deeper by a 5th as if I was using a 7 string in G# tuning compared to Krys and John. This is something I just tried back in the first practise to get a swampy sound and it’s now stuck as the Slimelord style. The whole process was done by our friend Ben Jones who mostly deals with hardcore and grind bands but, of course has an interest in death metal so was excited to work with us. We left him to do the job himself and the first mix he sent back within a couple days was the one. He managed to cover everything in a sickly mist like the moist hills of the Yorkshire Dales early in the morning, especially the vocals, which often echo for ages into the cavernous caverns. Even though we’re still planning on doing it live again, next time we’ll be putting much more time into the recording process to make it sound as gargantuan as Amphibia’s arch nemesis: MUTANTA. Now that we’ve jammed together for over a year, we feel tight and connected as a band and well-versed in the techniques of the Slimelord.”
As for the artwork for their demo, Xander tells us: “A. Nagamasa (who also does the Cryptic Shift art) painted this piece, she’s a phenomenal artist but unfortunately not so well known! It depicts The Delta Death Sirens themselves. Guided by scrying tree gremlins, and equipped with a book of evil spells, they’ve hunted down a group of pilgrims traversing the marshlands. These witches wish to trap the weary travelers to offer them as human sacrifices to the great venerable Amphibia! Andy brings in knowledge of occult mythology and influence from some black/war metal themes to conjure up Amphibia: A demon of Hell from the 3rd circle of Gluttony. It’s the demon toad’s goal to consume humans and transmogrify all the lands into ever-encompassing swamps. There is a site which we all hold great interest in; the Druid’s Temple, it’s near Ripon which is a couple hours north of us. It’s an ancient Celtic site of standing stones, complete with sacrificial altars and is said the Devil had been worshiped here at some point. I believe this contributed to the conceptualization of our lore.”
After releasing their demo last year, Xander says Slimelord “firstly did a few weekenders in the Spring/Summer of 2019 and then very quickly picked up support slots with Tomb Mold, Of Feather And Bone and Ritual Necromancy on their UK Tour. Those dates were great fun and we also had good chats about Dark Souls tactics! In December we did a support gig with Black Witchery in London. We were also part of Cosmic Terror fest put on by Cosmic Realm Collective and Sublime Terror Promotions which featured an insane lineup including Grave Miasma, Spectral Voice, Abyssal & more. I personally found the Slimelord live shows great fun because without having to concentrate on vocals and heavy pedal use, I could move about freely and totally be submerged in a realm of swamp fog. But all through this we rehearse every week at least a few times, we constantly come up with new material. Within our first month or two we had the songs for The Delta Death Sirens fully complete, then after 3 or 4 months we probably had twenty-plus ideas. Our songs usually form from a notable riff oozing from random noodling, wherein we come up with maybe a couple sections to follow it. When that intro is tight we press go on the tape recorder, play the minute or so of what we have so far and then totally improvise the rest of the track, nodding and signaling to each other while playing where we feel the next movement should go. If it felt good the whole way, then I’ll go home and essentially transcribe what we did. At the next rehearsal we’ll ‘learn’ our own song. It’s a very organic way to compose and because of who we are as friends and musicians, whatever we jam out in the room becomes Slimelord.”
Because they’re so active and tight-knit, there’s already some more Slimelord material on its way. We here at Demo:listen HQ have had the awesome privilege of checking out some instrumental demos of the new material, and we’ve seen the new cover art and all we can say is watch out for Slimelord Rising!
“Our next release will be called Moss Contamination. It’s about the infection of swampland flora due to outside chemicals, it will detail how it affects the swamplife, including the retreat of powerful bog demons into their sub-surface dwellings as well as an attempt by one human to use black magic to combat the growing scourge. Unfortunately A. Nagamasa wasn’t available to do artwork at the moment but we have a great piece by another artist to reveal in due time for this second release. Seed Of Doom should be handling cassette tapes once again, which was a great collaboration the first time; we’re also thinking to do a few shorter split releases if the right bands appear. . . We now have a couple t-shirt designs available as well which you can find on our social media pages. Apart from that, we’re waiting for the Coronavirus plague to wash over and get back into booking some shows; we had one festival to play in Leeds in April which has been cancelled. But we are swamp dwellers, and have built up some resilience to the most powerful Hemlock and giant Hogweed parasites for many years. Stay safe, check out our merch and upcoming release, take care of the swamps.”