For the third time in this series I tried to make my decision process easier by just focusing on songs on the candidate list by bands whose names begin with the same letter. And I couldn’t resist the temptation to make the selection worm-ridden.
What an enormous near-Halloween surprise this band’s Bluenothing EP was. With expectations extremely high based on the burgeoning appeal of Worm‘s Foreverglade album, they satisfied fan hunger by deciding to throw a curveball at their faces.
The A-side consisted of two previously un-used tracks from the Foreverglade recording sessions, embellished by the added performance of new Worm guitarist Phil Tougas (of First Fragment, VoidCeremony, Chthe-ilist, and Hulder [live]) in his new guise as Wroth Septentrion. That alone made those songs sound different, but even more different were the B-side tracks, with the first of those (“Invoking The Dragonmoon”) functioning as a lead-in to the sheer necromantic spectacle of the second one (“Shadowside Kingdom”), which one would guess was the true inspiration for Brad Moore‘s amazing cover art.
And so, Bluenothing wasn’t some kind of time-filler, feeding fans what they had come to expect from the black/doom of Foreverglade, but instead a musical statement of transition. Indeed the PR materials explicitly stated: “And so, with Bluenothing, the Foreverglade-era of WORM is ceremoniously put to an end, and the next chapter in the fanatical saga opens…”
If “Shadowside Kingdom” is a true sign of the next chapter, I could hardly be more excited. The guitar tandem of Wroth Septentrion and Nihilistic Manifesto put on a hell of a show, and for all I know the band’s main man Phantom Slaughter pitched in on guitar for this song as well, in addition to performing synths and vocals (along with Necreon on bass and Charlie Koryn on drums).
This was a nightside excursion of symphonic black metal that ventured from haunting but seductively beckoning spectral realms into pinnacles of daunting peril and ravishing glory, launched to even greater heights by Wroth Septentrion’s eye-popping solos, and with changing vocals that were great companions for the journey. There was never any doubt in my own mind that I’d include this song here.
Now we come to one of those relatively uncommon albums that just about all of our writers uniformly liked, including people who aren’t usually ardent fans of grindcore, because the band really expanded their array of influences and their songwriting versatility. We had mini-reviews of Hiss pop up in Dan Grover‘s year-end list and in the list by Wil Cifer (who also wrote a detailed review of the album earlier in the year), and we also got an extended review by DGR in his year-end list.
For mostly short songs, the tracks on Hiss were often packed with ideas, and some really were infectious as well. At times I thought “When Talkin Fails, It’s Time For Violence” was the most infectious of them all (and it still might be), but I decided to put “Your Dystopian Hell” on this list. It’s the one DGR promoted, and I suspect he did so because it’s such a prime example of Wormrot pushing the boundaries of their music on Hiss. I certainly appreciated it for that reason.
The song is a hell of a wild brawl, but the blazing guitars at the outset of the song give it an air of grandeur, and the growling, mangling, and screaming audio contortions that later ensue are so experimentally crazed that they also help make the song stand out.
Wormwitch released two singles last year, “Age of the Ordeal of Iron” and “Exhumed From Flaming Stars“. I had them both on my list of candidates for this list, but after a bit of mental wrestling I picked the first one.
Lyrically, the song is quite a tale, built around some big and serious subjects, and not one with a very optimistic outlook. Like the story line (as I wrote after first hearing it), the music itself is a creature of wrath and disgust. It blazes with the intensity of feverishly hammering drums, cyclonic riffing that roils and writhes, tumultuous bass lines, and flesh-scorching vocal vitriol.
The band also mix in rocking grooves, slashing, head-hooking chords, and fiery, frantic leads that seem to channel feral fighting spirits, as well as passages where the music both soars and seems afflicted by anguish, and other more doom-stricken moments when the music stalks and towers like a grim and glowering beast. It tails away into what feels like a nightmarish void.
All in all, the song is an electrifying experience, and one I thought easily earned its place on this list.