Spaceslug. The very name implies the music contained therein. Swirling cosmic waves of fuzz that move along slowly, inexorably to some distant unknown horizon. Releasing their third full length and fourth overall album in a little over two years, Eye of the Tide sees the Polish band moving in a heavier melange of doom and post-rock aggression that keeps the foundation of psychedelic stoner rock from losing the thread.
From the beginning, Spaceslug have been certain in their musical identity. Debut Lemanis arrived in 2016 signaling a wonderfully shabby embrace of the bass rumbling slow stoner rock so many bands attempt without getting at the underlying looseness of it all. Immediately with tracks like “Proton Lander” and “Grand Orbiter” the band hits that fine line of structured song and casual jam, everything covered in a smoky reverb with the trance-like vocals carrying the melody across washes of guitar.
Follow up Time Travel Dilemma moved the needle a little more firmly into sludgy Sabbath worship, but the combination of drummer/vocalist Kamil Ziólkowski on drums and vocals, bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka and guitarist Bartosz Janik ensure that the jamming feel doesn’t entirely disappear. “Living the Eternal Now” gets downright leaden in moments, but also opens up to let the instruments wander in search of new ideas and avenues to explore. Coming so soon after their debut it’s even more of a wonder that eight months later they released the pulsing EP Mountains & Reminiscence which allowed the more compact songwriting to compress the wanderlust and really emphasize the aggression the band could bring to bear.
The opening moments of “Obsolith” indicate a darker route for Eye the Tide. Loosely conceived as a trilogy, the album moves the space journey to the end of the known universe, and the darker, colder ambience mirror the direction of the album. Both “Obsolith” and follow-up “Spaced by One” continue the path of interweaving lines and flowing bass playing over the forward moving drums. The mid-point of “Spaced by One” gets particularly gnarly, with a great solo and loads of feedback before returning to its origins.
Where things get really dicey is with “Words Like Stones.” Moments approach black metal, and it’s such a change of pace that you’re immediately drawn to the track again and again, wishing to hear that juxtaposition one more time. It’s a moment that – as much as I enjoy what Eye the Tide does – I wish would be repeated on other tracks. “Vialys part I & II” tries to get there in the latter part of the song, but nothing matches the previous rage. By the time of closer “I, the Tide” you’re still 100% along for the ride, but as the final moments revel in a lurching doom riff you can’t help but recall back to those moments of blind fury and wonder if you only imagined it.
In the short amount of time they’ve been active, the amount of music Spaceslug has managed to put out is admirable, and the fact that so much of it is successful not only in adhering to its chosen identity but also rising above the chaff that’s been pouring this kind of music out is outright enviable. By moving in a darker direction with Eye the Tide it feels like the band is getting ready for a change. It may take some time to fully arrive, but I’ll definitely be waiting to hear it when it does.