Music Monday: Stringers, by Chris Panatier

It’s Monday, and I’m posting, so that can only mean one thing – it’s Music Monday! Music Monday is the original idea of Drew at The Tattooed Book Geek, and this is my adapted take on it, in which I pick an album to go with a book. Sometimes they’re linked very literally by the lyrical content, sometimes the link is a little less obvious. Read on to find out what album I’m pairing with Chris Panatier’s forthcoming novel Stringers (out tomorrow with Angry Robot)!

Stringers exemplifies the old adage of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. I mean, technically main character Ben actually knows tons of stuff, mostly about bug sex and a fair bit about watches, but it’s his very limited knowledge of one particular thing that lands him in hot water – the Chime. Kidnapped by an alien bounty hunter, he and his well meaning best friend Patton (and a jar of pickles) are catapulted across space in an intergalactic bromance of epic proportions.

As I said in my review of Stringers, there’s plenty of comedy in there, but Ben and Patton’s friendship is also really heartwarming. Additionally, there’s loads of really interesting worldbuilding and some very original ideas about the nature of existence, not to mention epic space battles. Oh, and pickles. Simply put, to assume Stringers is just about the comedy is to do it a huge disservice. And with that, I can slide very smoothly (probably on a slime trail and everything) into the album I’ve picked to go with it.

Esoteric Malacolgy, by Slugdge

Slugdge only came onto my radar with the release of this album – Esoteric Malacology – in 2018, having released three previous albums in praise of their fictional slimy deity Mollusca. The Lancashire band have been around since 2012, releasing Born of Slime, Gastronomicon and Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms independently on Bandcamp before signing with Willowtip Records. With various punny names for song titles – Crop Killer, War Squids, Slave Goo World and Salt Thrower being a few choice ones that metalheads will no doubt find themselves grinning goofily at – they certainly have a wry take on the genre.

Are you dismissing them for not being serious enough yet? Well don’t – this is a band to be underestimated at your peril. Just like with Stringers, Esoteric Malacolgy has a veneer of comedy – “Haha, it’s about interdimensional molluscs and the song titles are reference-heavy jokes” – over a piece of art that’s vastly more sophisticated than you could have ever anticipated. Take a listen to The Spectral Burrows if you’re in any doubt:

Complex compositions and a willingness to experiment are nothing without the talent to back them up though, and thankfully, Slugdge have it in spades. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Matt Moss switches seamlessly between harsh vocals and soaring, borderline choral ones, with Kev Pearson alternating between shredding, plucking out moody and atmospheric refrains and throwing out enormous riffs that slam like the lids of tombs, all while the solid as a rock rhythm section of bassist Matthew Cassidy and none other than The Black Dahlia Murder’s drummer Alan Cassidy keep time. Praise Mollusca!

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Music Monday, and that you check out both Stringers and Esoteric Malacology if either of them sound at all like your kind of thing. You can order Stringers from Angry Robot here, and download Esoteric Malacolgy through Bandcamp here. I earn nothing from these links apart from a warm glowy feeling, arguably the greatest reward of all.

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