Wormwood – S/T

Christmas has decayed away, it has fallen into the snow, crushed underfoot, ground into muddied mush speckled with blood.  Ahead the New Year approaches, and with it thousands upon millions of lies erupt from the maws of the damned, those sniveling wooden robots of society that drag their feet, make their purchases, make their promises, and break them, one after the other, in a matter of days at best, hours for most.  The name 'wormwood' carries with it a number of references, usually specifically of bitterness and grief, but today we're using the term to specifically refer to Boston-soul suckers Wormwood and their particular blend of blackened, sludgy metal with some elements of punk, post-hardcore, and practically everything else an overzealous music critic could pull from their bag of tag tricks.  Previously, some of the guys in this act were in a band called Doomriders, which appeared in 2004 and cut their first full-length one year later (click that link before the comma to hear it).  The sound was too rock perhaps, with too much boot tapping, too much headbanging for style instead of to get all of the disgust out of one's head.  Sick, thick riffs, sure, but today we're interested in the awful truth of human beings, and ten years later, roughly, two of the members of the aforementioned band got together to form Wormwood, and they're opening their career by merely presenting themselves as-is, without titling their work further than their own name commands.  Imbibe the Green Fairy, lay back, and hate with us today as we check out this soul-suckingly depraved release.

  

It's been awhile since we got something from Magic Bullet Records, in fact it's probably been years now.  There's something likely in 'The Vault' that we'll pull out at some point, but for now let's start it off by getting to know them again through this sick LP, right here (seriously check that link there and indulge).  But, keep in mind this one is also out on CD (with a patch) via Patac Records, and cassette from Negative Fun Records, though we're talking specifically about the vinyl version.  First scoping the cover of this one is as telling as looking at the size of War and Peace.  Your mind empties and says "I am prepared for this, I am ready to be filled with this, I am ready to become this."  It's a simple image, which is deceptive; what looks likes a dark, lonely house with an expanse of empty trees in winter behind double in a mirror effect with the band's logo, and this S/T's title, right at the top.  But oh, there is so much more to it than mere appearances, but unlike War and Peace, you don't regret finishing.  Let us first consider Wormwood in its essence, which is crushing, sludgy disgust.  The guitars, the drums, the vocals, all of it is sifted through a moldered sieve.  Part of that could be the fact that it was recorded in analog (not specified, but let's pretend reel-to-reel), which is a definite plus if you're spinning on vinyl because nothing's worse than digital tracks on an analog medium.  So already these guys are laying waste to the hip.  Goodie.

 

But Wormwood, now that we've gotten the simplicity out of the way, is rather dense in its overall approach and imagery.  The lyrics run all the various avenues of 'the dark' you could hope for, but with cleaner intonation than most bands of this type, with a generally consistent delivery in tone; gargling and gruesome being two of the words that spring into mind.  The overall time is actually shorter than you might expect when it starts, because they have that 'wall of sound' approach.  However, where they break this expectation is through increases in tempo, which work incredibly well where most sludge works better in lag.  Wormwood grind and churn, mashing your contentment into unending woe and finishing it off with an experimental "Reprise" at the end.  This one can survive tons of listens, with only one problem, and it's the opener, "Hollow Black Eyes".  It's a common problem.  Sometimes there's always one track that simply sets the tone and doesn't require anything further, a track that completely defines the entire work and almost makes it better presented as a cassingle.  The development in "Hollow Black Eyes" is perfection; from the slow, bitter drag of the start to the chord breakdown that turns into an angry riff barrage, not to mention incredibly awesome lyrics that make one hope for a black eyed child so they have a theme song as they antagonize the world.  As a whole, Wormwood is stellar nonetheless, it simply has the minor fault of a single track that's such a joy to listen to you almost don't need the rest of it.  It's a fine start, let's hope for more.

 

Wormwood Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Wormwood – S/T
Magic Bullet Records / Patac Records / Negative Fun Records
4.5 / 5