Saturday, March 23, 2013

Wormed - Exodromos

Wormed – Exodromos
Willowtip, 2013

Believe the hype. Wormed speak adequately to the zeitgeist...or at least the online simulation of the same. Problematics and possible arguments (not “controversies”) when first considering a review of the new Wormed album: the role of the writer and reviewer, the role of the listener. A reviewer is expected to somehow, even in a limited space, for a short time, try to convert music to words (depending on his/her skill, this is another problem) and then comment on those same conversions – or on the analogous conversions of others. I don't care about any of that. Do you? If you want to listen to Wormed you have the means to do so. Their new album leaked weeks ago, it's streaming on at least one website, descriptions are unnecessary. It's death metal, it is (as I said before in my review of the latest Devourment album) miscast, misaligned, shallowly-understood slam rising newly to breach the genre specifics of that hastily, dilettantishly circumscribed neo-genre. We now see “mainstream” death metal, meaning the “main current”, not death metal directed at “mainstream” listeners (what the fuck are those?) squatting, giving rise to daughter subgenres and then sucking up and incorporating the ideas of the same. Babies making babies. This is natural. Death metal, just like black metal, strains at the boundaries of its definitions, as it always has, spins out mutations and sucks them back in again. This is another way of saying: it's all death metal. It's all metal. It's all rock and roll. Deal with it.

Wormed enjoy playing with microgenre riff specifications. They'll throw out something that hints at what might be a bedroom black metal nth generation misunderstanding of an old Voivod riff if that makes you feel comfortable in the newly spun, created-while-listening microcosm of “interpretation” while you hunt for sonics that illustrate fantasies of abduction you didn't know you had. You'll say: yes, Voivod, yes, space, yes...something or other. Artificial harmonics, off-key chromatic dithering that makes people say “dissonance” without knowing what that word means in music theory. "Space" equals a limitless possibility that death metal can now move into, its signifier: the discordant that screams “The Future” (always capitalized), that Great Abstraction, that Great Nothing. Boundless optimism meaning nothingness (and this is Wormed's secret alignment with death metal's historic pessimism) because in pointing at all possibility it points at nothing at all. Wormed's guitars careen, accelerate and stop mute, twist and turn, writhe and dive, scream and microchug, absorb all of thrash, the entire history of death, they rise to the melodic insincerity of a failed black metal (yet never downcast, Wormed seek the optimist...which means the inhuman) and then thumb their nose at the same. Melodicism from the entire history of The Machine. If it seems insincere and outside all of history it's because it seeks to be, in turn, outside all of humanity, forgetting that humans create the robotic. At heart it's that same replicant rhythm, or the semaphore, dead-inside shouting to the deaf: the future is beat and pulse, it's sub-Meshuggah math rhythm because this brings us, somehow, back to our humanity, although this is just a surface communication and so: meaningless. Rhythm was the beginning of music...will it be the future? Is that our essence? No, now, humanity's fate seems to be in embracing technology, in embracing The Inhuman, in absorbing and being fucked by “extremity” that is somehow shoved by Freudian prosthetic god technology into a projected nirvana that is, let's admit it...a totalitarian nightmare. Rhythm under will, rhythm is the law. Wormed, on this album, play an incredibly technically precise and beautiful form of death metal that should inspire many (most to insincere, shallow replication) to follow in their footsteps, it's entertaining, moving (in the bodily sense, it doesn't touch the emotional), I have listened to this album at least twenty times already. They completely lack spirit, transcendence, humanity. That's the point. If that's truly (they're artists, you can turn away from what they're trying to sell you) the case this might be the most negative death metal album in a long while. Death as in “death of humanity?” It might seem natural to some, the grave-worshippers, the ash-swallowers. I prefer my death metal a little more humanistic. I want to feel runny flesh and grave fat in my death metal, I want to feel horror, shame, guilt, dread...I want to pretend I'm still alive. Wormed tells you: no, you're dead, you're abstracted consciousness, you're floating in the ether, let's convert your bones to stainless steel and still make music. In that sense? This album is a triumph. I love it in any case. 

UA - 032313

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Devourment – Conceived in Sewage

Devourment – Conceived in Sewage
Relapse Records, 2013

I have to be honest here: for me the crowning glory of this recording is, about 89% of the time, simply the guitar sound. Not always one to overtly let my eyes roll back and embarrassingly bathe in sonics (outside of song structure, overarching songwriting, whatever other messages the music conveys), especially in mixed company, this album has me reveling in iron-fisted, tyranically controlled distortion and downtuned guitar slaughter to a degree that would discomfort me in a projected externalization if I were somehow an outside onlooker still capable of shame. First and second drafts of the guitar's descriptions were red-facedly lustful while halting a hair's breadth from the queasily sexual or Costanza-like combination of the same and culinary flights, even...Rabelaisian? The words are halting, it's best one witness the darkness, width and breadth oneself, as usual. Download and press play. Buy and wait and press play. Feast. It's death metal. It's catchy, moving, well-written death metal that clawed its way up from outrĂ©, contrarian-adoring underground slam. I can only guess (or picture in the mind's eye) that this sound is the product of hushed, eager confabulations and amp-testing sessions between guitarist Ruben and engineer/fellow admirer of all things concrete-laden, Rutan. I would be pleasantly surprised to learn that Rosas entered Mana Studios with everything already planned out and dialed in. Was the Hate Eternal leader able to flex his expertise, show off the capabilities of his studio and gear collection? Maybe some interviewer in the future will ask about this. In any case, it is this incredibly thick, serpentine, black coalescence of punishing (yet beautifully clear) noise that converts the guitar writing from merely an instrument of simple song construction to a device/vehicle of expression that is throwing off band and album-themed signifiers with each note: the guitar sound IS the embodiment of disgusted misanthropy (askance in the mirror), sewer sludge, refuse and detritus-lives, nihilism, hopelessness, slave ideals and dive bar toilet futures. Production as voice, once again. Production as a vital part. That Devourment take this solidified, musical concatenation of ruined, garbage people and cast-off DNA and make it dance, make it sing, make it seem to enjoy and perversely flaunt its own willful worthlessness in the face of an inherited hierarchy of Official Reason, is what becomes their attractiveness, their subversive, irritating, entertaining value...even more: their putrefying (it has to be this way) meaning. 

UA - 031613