Wormrot are one of those bands who seem to be best known for something other than their music.
That's not to take away from their music in any way, I'm definitely a fan, but whenever you hear them mentioned in most articles, a bigger deal seems to be made of the fact that they are from Singapore, one of the most isolated and obscure countries in the world, and that they play grindcore, one of the most alienating and obscure music genres in the world.
Although the phrase Grindcore from Singapore is fun to type, and to say!
See, I'm getting distracted from what actually matters: the music.
Another thing that gained the band a lot of exposure beyond their status as geographical curiosity is the fact that their label, Earache, decided not to release any 'single', video, or even just stream the album, but to actually release the digital version of the album for free months in advance of it's release date.
I would try to provide a link to get the freebie for yourself, but the Earache site is such a clusterfuck I can't navigate my way to where the files are available from, if they still are.
If you're that curious, you should just buy the actual album.
Anyway, plenty of folks took Earache up on that great offer, myself included.
I'm not one of the countless (un)holier-than-thou metal fans who can't allow themselves to like something if it's popular, who dismiss bands based on hype or exposure. I like to believe the hype about bands, but not blindly, I will at least give them the chance to justify it.
I tend to think that if so many people have good things to say about music as harsh and, a lot of the time, downright unlistenable as what these guys play, then they must be DAMN good at what they do.
So despite this blog's raison d'etre, I succumbed to the lure of digital.
From the first seconds, the first note, this didn't strike me as being like any other grind band I'd heard for a while. The first track, charmingly titled 'No-one Gives A Shit', started out with a corrosive scree of guitar, and it went on for what seemed like forever (in grindcore terms). Then it hit me, and I bought into every word of hype.
The usual turn of events took place: I dug the music, and when I saw the artwork I knew that I downright NEEDED the record. So I pre-ordered it, without having a clue as to the actual release date (seriously Earache, get your site sorted, for fucks sake...), and waited at my mailbox like a kid before christmas for weeks.
Eventually it arrived, and it was WELL worth the wait!
The cover art alone justified this purchase, I absolutely love high-contrast black ink illustrations, and this informs way more record purchases than it should. What can I say, I'm aesthetically shallow. Even more so when those illustrations depict decrepit death, reeking putrefaction, and general decay. So before I even slid out the sleeve, I was just sat drooling over the packaging for a solid 5 minutes.
I was pretty damn surprised to discover it was drawn by Andrei Bouzikov, who has created some of my favourite album art of the past couple of years for the likes of Hellmouth, Skeletonwitch and Municipal Waste. He normally produces very colourful, traditional metal cover paintings, and this artwork does seem like a big departure for him. You can check out his work over at the Tankcrimes site, here:
The reason that I'm re-playing and 'reviewing' this record now is because I have the great fortune to be catching Wormrot playing in a dingy little basement tomorrow night along with a couple of my favourite local purveyors of filth. So this spin is just a refresher course as to why I'm so excited to see this band play.
Side A opens with that aforementioned corrosive, rusting riff, before launching into the style of grind that made me a fan.
At the risk of offending people (actually, fuckit, get offended, what the fuck do I care?), I'm not big on most grindcore. The vast majority of it sounds like unlistenable noise, over-long samples, someone running their fingers up and down a fretboard while some triggered drums blast away at incomprehensible superhuman speeds over the whole thing. What can I say, I'm just not cool enough to like music without any sense of rythm or discernable hooks. Luckily, Wormrot have hooks in spades. Or some other terrible mixed metaphor.
The songs run into each other so fast that it's an exercise in futility to try to tell them apart for the most part, but my personal highlights of side A are the amazingly titled 'Public Display Of Infection', 'Overpowered Violence', and the track that closes out the side 'Deceased Occupation'.
That last track is probably the single catchiest moment of the first side, with it's initial spit-acid-in-your-face attack giving way to a slower, lumbering, stop/start groove and fantastically varied drum patterns. My only gripe is that the song fades out, and not just on the record, but on the digital version too. It kind of ruins the relentless momentum.
But not too much, because they launch into Side B with a-fucking-plomb!
The familiar constant grinding resumes, with the occasional foray into catchier territory to break things up. The thing that I like most about Wormrot is the drumming. They seem to draw from just about every variant of grind drumming, from the usual blastbeats, occasional D-beat, through to these little in-the-pocket groove sections. I'm not usually one of those guys who rants and raves about 'musicianship' and all that bullshit, but I am genuinely excited to hear if their drummer can pull this stuff off live.
Side B draws to an end with a couple of tracks that weren't included on the free digi download: 'Grind Emergency' and 'Grind On Impulse'. These tracks are ferocious enough to warrant the purchase of the actual record alone. Another adjective that springs to mind for the closing moments of the album is blistering. I feel like my ears need some time off after only 20 minutes of this.
Shame they won't get it. Bring on tomorrow night!
Buy Wormrot music and merch from Earache!
EU store: http://earache.com/webstore/index.php/cPath/667_674_750?osCsid=gpkaf7s2d3edgejdarup07gho0
US store: http://earache.com/uswebstore/index.php/cPath/667_674_733?osCsid=a954l8ocs9fkkqb9dvfrfi28s4