As many of the reviews we’re putting out this month will indicate, December frequently becomes a month where new music is ignored. There is a twofold reason for this. First, music journalists become laser-focused on end of the year wrap up posts. There’s an unfortunately good reason for that since you get a lot of eyeballs on your writing. Second, December tends to be a month where unanticipated releases are put out. That’s not to say they’re all like that, but there are a lot of fairly uninteresting records coming out in December (anecdotally speaking). While there is a lot of that in 2019, we’re also being graced by a Spaceslug release that’s got my little progressive stoner doom feet a-tapping.
You can always count on a solid release from Spaceslug. The Polish trio creates some of the best stoner doom grooves I can think of and are doing it again in 2019 with Reign of the Orion. In the short span of four years since their founding, Spaceslug has established themselves as one of the premiere stoner doom bands currently working. Their drawn-out stoner jams frequently touch the area of sublime contemplation and meditation. They almost become philosophical in a way that their music assists in deep thought about the nature of being.
Reign of the Orion is no different. The band has established their own personal style and continue to build out that reputation on the latest record. But there are some new aspects to their sound. The record has noticeably higher production qualities than previous releases. While previous records weren’t hurt by lower quality production, it could make things sound very muddy and unclear. You’re not able to thoroughly enjoy the records because it just feels like you’re missing something even if you really aren’t. Listeners definitely won’t have that problem with Reign of the Orion.
While all that is fantastic news, Reign of the Orion doesn’t necessarily break new territory. Yes, it has a shiny new presentation that’s pretty great and certainly adds to their ensemble. The spacious songwriting delving deep into the mystic is also pretty incredible for such a young band, but they were doing that before. It boils down to a great band that wrote a handful of new tracks that are engaging and inviting but not groundbreaking. For fans of Spaceslug, that probably seems perfectly fine to you. And it does for me, too. I’ve listened to this record a dozen times and truly enjoyed each playthrough. At the same time I’m really enjoying it, I’m also thinking how one record can become indistinguishable from another simply because they have a standard they stick to. So it’s just missing that extra little something to make it really stand out.
Despite that relatively minor knock, Reign of the Orion is a really enjoyable record. Fans of Spaceslug will be excited for more content, and sometimes that’s just what people want. When you make something that’s already great, it can be difficult to top yourself. I suppose in that way you could call Spaceslug a plague of riches. They create such rich music already that more of it is just more great music. It doesn’t have to top itself if it’s already enjoyable, and sometimes that’s enough. So Reign becomes everything you want and nothing you don’t. It’s a good thing.
Reign of the Orion is available now through BSFD Records and can be purchased via Bandcamp.