They might be a new name in the increasingly fertile US grindcore scene, but Slugcrust have old enemies in their sights. Rich Holmes finds out what’s driving the band, via frontman and lyricist Jesse Cole.
“I try to write poetry on a given subject, bastardize it into a horror anthology, turn it into lyrics and put it to song.”
Slugcrust vocalist Jesse Cole doesn’t flinch when faced with a world under continuous siege.
And much of that horror he references centres around ‘ecocide’ – ‘unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts’, according to an Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide.
In simpler words, it’s ‘killing one’s home’… and there are global calls for ecocide to be recognised as an international crime.
Ecocide, Slugcrust’s debut album, sees Cole, plus guitarist Derick Caperton, drummer Brett Terrapin and bassist Stacey Williams, tackle the destruction of Mother Earth head on.
The quartet’s incendiary grind attack draws from d-beat, crust and acidic sludge to make its point. Napalm Death, Brutal Truth and Rotten Sound all spring to mind as you navigate through Swamp Mind, Drag Me To Agony, Buzzard Czar and Petrochemical.
“I first learned about ecocide when listening to a podcast,” Cole recalls. “It was something about the barriers to its ratification as a crime against humanity and companies that would have to adjust their business practices as a result.
“Often cited as an example of ecocide is the use of Agent Orange (a chemical herbicide and defoliant) in the Vietnam War: everything about the downfall of American exceptionalism during that time period always intrigued me.”
He continues: “Each song is special to each of us in its own unique way. I think the title track Ecocide is going to leave the heaviest impact, but the doomier tracks like Arachno-Mariticide really twinge and pull at the emotion.”
Released in September this year, Ecocide saw the South Carolina act define the sound that had emerged on their self-titled debut EP and its four-track follow-up, From Whom Hell Shall Never Depart (you should also check out their cover of SOAD’s X).
And given Caperton and Terrapin’s astounding work with labelmates and fellow grindcore outfit WRVM, it was no surprise that Ecocide hit so hard from a sonic perspective.
“Derick’s guitar playing naturally emanates a crust flavour that’s potent and raw,” says Cole of his bandmate. “I’m sure there are probably several influences for him beneath that, but to me it’s a sound unique to him… like a fingerprint.”
The band also enlisted the help of Cody Davidson, drummer with Ohio death metal unit Sanguisugabogg, to mix and master their debut full-length.
The result is a record that sounds born in the flames of old school grindcore. Davidson seems to really ‘get it’, according to Cole: “Big meaty thanks to him! Cody heard every sound this record needed when he mastered it.
“He knew how to perfect the rawness we wanted for Ecocide into an exact noise.”
That ‘exact noise’ has won Slugcrust plenty of plaudits… and slots as the likes of Illinois’ Full Terror Assault, where they played alongside legendary acts such as Pig Destroyer, Skinless and Suicidal Tendencies. “We had the time of our damn lives out there,” says Slugcrust’s vocalist. “The acts were insane to watch, but the kinship shared with everyone else there is like no other!”
So where do Slugcrust go after Ecocide?
“This band is constantly improving,” replies Cole. “All of us are dedicated to perfecting our individual craft and making the most efficient use of our grind time.
“You can expect that momentum to continue.”
Ecocide is out now on Prosthetic Records.
Band photo by Zakary Thornton.