(In this new interview Comrade Aleks spoke with the principal creator behind the Floridian extreme metal band Worm, whose latest album Gloomlord was released by Iron Bonehead this past January.)
Being born amidst the swamps of Florida as a solo project, Worm was a black metal outfit run by Phantom Slaughter, a.k.a. Wurm. He recorded two demos on his own — The Deep Dark Earth Underlines All (2014) and Nights In Hell (2016), and then he met a like-minded person.
Since 2017 Phantom Slaughter has worked together with Equimanthorn, and their collaboration has resulted in two full-length albums, Evocation Of The Black Marsh (2017) and Gloomlord (2020). Both albums were released by the famous Iron Bonehead Productions and both demonstrate Worm’s tendency towards a new direction – dirty and savage blackened death doom in its most nihilistic form.
How is it there in the Floridian underground? Let’s take a look together with Phantom Slaughter himself.
Hi Phantom Slaughter! How are you? What’s going on in your area due to the virus shit nowadays?
Greetings, things are alright here in my part of Florida, not too crazy… yet. My day job is currently closed for a while so this has been a golden opportunity for me to focus on creating new Worm music for an EP that I hope to release later this year. This current state of affairs has not bothered me as much as it has others. Been wanting extra time to focus on the craft, hauled up boozing and riffing in the Swamp Crypt.
So you started as a black metal band when you recorded The Deep Dark Earth Underlies All demo, and Nights in Hell was quite the same. What were your influences back then?
Hm, let me take a stroll down memory lane. Strictly speaking for Deep Dark Earth…, I think my main focus was to take songs through realms, so what you hear in the beginning of the song is going to be completely different when you get to the end. For the first release I think I was hearing a lot of basic Black Metal entry-way stuff and music that wasn’t even considered metal. I remember Dark Medieval Times being a big influence as well as Dol Guldur and Drawing Down the Moon with the dynamics and little scenescapes. Wanted it to be very visual. I had also just begun to fall in love with all the LLN bands, which brings us to Nights in Hell.
I prefer this release way more than the aforementioned. Was listening to anything this French scene had put out in this period and blowing all my day-job money on original tapes from them (that Vermyapre Kommando tape really hurt my pocket). I remember sending Nights In Hell to Vordb (Moevot, Belketre, etc) and fanboying out when he gave me his opinion on each song. So yeah, LLN stuff and a hell of a lot of Dungeon Synth like Depressive Silence and Trolltjern. Releases like Wanderer – Surrounded By These Firs, Ancient – In the Eye of the Serpent, Apollyon – Troldeskovens Aander, Meadow in Silence – Far Beyond The Stars, and Wintermoon really stand out to me as points of inspiration in this period. Worm was a one-man band at that point so it was a completely different approach to how things are now.
With Evocation Of The Black Marsh you got a companion and switched to a more death metal influenced style. How did it happen?
Funny enough I had begun to wrap my head around making another release after Nights In Hell and wanting it to be completely different than what I had done before. Making a Nights In Hell part 2 would have been very boring for me and I was looking to express different things and was also listening to different things.
Abominations of Desolation was that “aha” moment for me that there were gateways into death metal that gave me the same feeling that first wave black metal and obscure tapes did. Basically taking a plunge into mid to late ’80s extreme metal. I was blasting Sadistic Intent – Impending Doom in my car in the parking lot of my job one day waiting to clock in because I had arrived early and this long haired figure came up to me and asked me what I was listening to. We shot the shit for a moment and he told me he played drums. Thus Evocation… was born and we were hell-bent on making an Autopsy/Goatlord inspired record, sprinkled with nods to early Finnish Death metal like Abhorrence.
It sounds like you were a die-hard black metal fan, so how easily did you leave this passion? Though Goatlord has a lot of this aesthetic…
I still have a strong passion for Black Metal, I never left it. I just have more influences mixed with my Black Metal as I’ve grown into releasing stuff throughout the years. I’m actually really into this USBM band called Masochist at the moment. Check their demo Frost of the Diabolical Forest.
Most of the bands that I view as real “Black Metal” never even called themselves that because Black Metal wasn’t even an invented term at that point, and a hell of a lot of bands calling themselves Black Metal in the mid ’90s and beyond are trash and just ruined the name haha (Unleash the fat internet trolls with Behemoth and Dimmu Burger and fry shirts! bahahah).
I believe there are a lot of Black Metal moments in Gloomlord. I can’t shake it off, it is at the very foundation of how I approach songwriting always. In terms of vocals for Gloomlord I actually went out of my way to put Black Metal shrieks over the parts that sounded more Death Metal to me and put death growls on the more BM moments just to keep things interesting for myself. I’ve heard people call Gloomlord “Blackened Death Doom”. I don’t mind that at all, people can label it what they want and I feel everyone is welcome to their own interpretation. Once I am done recording the album it is out of my hands.
Worm – Evocation Of The Black Marsh
What are your memories about the Evocation Of The Black Marsh recording session? Actually the whole album sounds like home recording in its primitive sense.
I remember being so inspired that I had another member in the band and wanting to jam like every day. Since we worked the same job and practically had the same days off it was perfect to completely submerse ourselves in this thing we were creating. Great times, lots of beer, smokes, and Doom. I would put a microphone in the middle of the room and just press record. I was very adamant about making a very rough and moldy record that sounded lost in time. I remember laughing at reviews of people quarreling in fear at the sound quality of that release. They probably retreated to the comfort of their crispy clean recorded modern metal albums.
Gloomlord is another thing. What led you to death doom territory? What are your general influences?
Personally it was just a natural progression to me. Evocation… had a hell of a lot of doom. More than anything I had ever recorded. Gloomlord marked me becoming completely obsessed with Funeral Doom and wanting to make a 100% Death Doom album. Obvious influences from Disembowelment, Thergothon, and Skepticism. Hell of a lot of Rippikoulu, Abhorrence, Gorement, Rottrevore, Laceration, Cianide, Eternal Darkness, Symphony of Grief, Winter, Worship, Deteriorot, Morpheus Descends, and many others, but I’m on my third beer right now and can’t remember.
Hah, that’s enough of a good list for me to get your point, no worries. You’re from Florida, can you say this place influences you as well?
Of course the natural settings influence me as well as the rich history this place once had with extreme metal. A dream of mine would be to champion the flag for Florida in metal once again. At this point this place is very materialistic and congested with terrible modern music fueling it’s despicable nightlife. The places I dwell in for inspiration are mostly deserted swamplands and heavily forested nature trails. I take pride in those areas and what my homeland looked like before homes were built atop of it. Always pay tribute to Chuck for all the effort in making every Death album a different experience for every listener. If that isn’t inspiring I don’t know what is.
This may sound strange, but I’ve seen two movies with a Southern States’ vibe – Southbound and Sam Was Here. Can you recommend any horrors about Florida’s area?
Watch the OG Swamp Thing from ’82 haha. I can’t think of any Floridian Horror off the top of my head but there are some Southern ones possibly including swamps. You have Eaten Alive (1976), The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Alien Dead (1980), which is actually set in a Florida swamp. I personally am really into Italian Horror. Inferno by Dario Argento is up there for me.
Do you play live with Worm?
At this moment Worm is a two-piece so it would be very hard to recreate all the work I put into the recordings in a live settings. The part of Florida where I reside is a ghost town when it comes to anything remotely close to extreme metal — it is very hard to find members interested or capable. People just don’t care about this shit here. Empty materialistic people with terrible taste in music. I have thought about moving the band up North as it is a dream of mine to play live at some point.
How would you compare the Gloomlord session with Evocation Of The Black Marsh?
Well we actually entered a real recording studio locally here in Florida for Gloomlord and gave ourselves more time to write the songs. It was a completely different experience from working in my home rehearsal space. It felt that these recordings were life or death so I guess you can say we put more effort in them. It wasn’t so casual and nonchalant, it felt like a mission we had to complete. I hold these recordings in a higher regard than anything I’ve released up to this point.
Worm – Gloomlord
Worm’s lyrics are summed up as “Satan, Nocturnal Nature, Outlawry, Misanthropy”, would you agree with that? What attracted you to these topics?
That sounds like some Encyclopedia Metallum information that I did not approve of. I have no idea who writes those things but it sure as hell wasn’t me. For Gloomlord I was reading a lot of Lovecraft and anything dealing with dreams. Here are a few titles that were around when I was writing: The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath, The Colour Out Of Space, The Haunter Of The Dark, and The Doom That Came To Sarnath.
Yep, exactly, I found that description there. There aren’t Worm lyrics online anyway. Actually it’s cool to learn about these Lovecraft references. Can you comment on the album’s lyrics by songs? Why do you feel these topics work with your music? Really interesting.
I printed some lyrics for Nights In Hell that came along with an Art Zine released through Altare but those are lost in time. I was actually going to have the lyrics available for Gloomlord but I think we were rushing to just get the album to the pressing plant as we hadn’t released anything since 2017 and the mixing process was draining for the band so we just wanted to turn it in. I remember tripping out to the lyrics of Thergothon – Stream from the Heavens and all the nods to Lovecraft and the Watchers just fit so well with the impending gloom of the music.
I think the lyrics I am most proud of would be the ones on “Abysmal Dimensions”, the final song on the album. It describes a slow descent into the dream realm. Almost like Lovecraft’s description of the city of Celephaïs. For me these topics mesh so well with Metal and I think I can speak for a lot of people into this genre that it is because of its escapism and the horror of the unknown. I think the mundaneness of reality can downright bore me to death as well as the routine of every-day life, and these are topics you can just plunge into and forget reality for those moments in time; the imagery I get in my head while reading also inspires riffing on a huge level. Hell, I think we can all use some Lovecraft these days.
Do you feel Gloomlord reflects Worm’s spirit the right way still?
Worm’s spirit is the freedom to do whatever my influences are and whatever pleases me, so yes. There should be no boundaries or rules for creation. That is the whole reason why I started this project.
So can we expect that on the forthcoming EP you’ll keep a balance between death and doom? Or do you suppose to switch on death? It feels quite natural considering Gloomlord’s aesthetic.
I feel I had just begun to scratch the surface for the concept I was crafting on Gloomlord and I can sense a natural progression coming along from the core ideas of that album. Definitely more crushing, slower parts and way more FUNERAL DOOM
Man, what’s your further plan considering the band for 2020?
As I said I would like to release an EP in 7-inch style and/or tape before the end of the year. Currently working on new material and extremely inspired. Also Worm and Headsplit Records are teaming up to release a second run of Gloomlord on tape as a US release, so keep your eyes peeled for that! Hails and I appreciate you taking the time out to ask the band a few questions.
Oh, tapes! Are you satisfied with this deep underground atmosphere surrounding Worm? What are your ambitions towards the band?
I always view Worm as an underdog band and that is completely fine with me, almost like a myth. Most of my favorite bands are bands that released one album and faded into obscurity like Infester/Disembowelment/Thergothon, etc. These bands didn’t really get the recognition they deserved until years later, and that speaks volumes. I just view that as being ahead or out of your time, which is inspiring to me.
I don’t really have huge ambitions. My main goal for Worm is to just keep having the means to release music every couple of years and to wave the flag for extreme metal coming out of the swamps of Florida in these modern times.
Thanks for the interview man! How would you sum up Worm’s message?
Worm appreciates all the support and recent interest we’ve had for this latest album as well as fellow bands we have had contact with, like Undeath/Fleshrot/Snet/Sedimentum, and we will soon return to unleash more putrid blasphemies before the end of the year. Keep your eyes peeled for another run of Gloomlord tapes through Headsplit fuckers! Check Wormgloom.bandcamp.com for swamp gear.
“Gloomlord” sounds like way up my street, already liked it from changing upon a preview on YouTube before this interview, but now knowing his lyrics having their stronghold in the depths of the Lovecraftian universe I adore it. Great interview, and “Gloomlord” is a Must have in my book.
PS. If people didn’t already know, “Gustaf Johansen” ain’t my name, it’s the name of the Captain Gustaf Johansen-character from HP Lovecraft’s “The Call Of Cthulhu” story.