I’m glad Oozing Wound exists. Not only because the Chicago-based trio has (mostly) delivered the goods over the course of their existence, but because they give a voice to the voiceless. Ok, maybe not the voiceless; more like those people who are sick of getting out of bed every morning to fight the fight against the absolute stupidity they witness around me…I mean them.
Tilt your head upward from your phone for a few minutes and swivel that otherwise useless appendage around a couple of times; you’ve got Flat Earthers, anti-Vaxxers, people standing on the left side of escalators, people texting while driving, climate change deniers, Trump supporters, swing dancers, those who use Facebook and Fox News as news sources, creationists, people who drink Bud Light Lime, those who believe Bonded By Blood isn’t the best Exodus album…the list goes on. Some of us have had it with all manner of idiocy running wild and free around this country, continent and planet. Some of us have given up trying to offer blowback because until a super volcano, meteorite or zombie apocalypse wipes out most of humanity, people are going to go through life thinking everything is hunky dory and shirking all responsibility for the pickle we’re in today.
An ongoing theme that has weaved through this band's discography – High Anxiety being their latest and fourth – is a not-so-thinly veiled disgust with mankind communicated via shit-tonnes of snark and sarcasm. Previous recordings are littered with warm and fuzzy ditties like “Everyone I Hate Should Be Killed,” “New York Bands,” “Going Through the Motions Until I Die,” “Sustained By Hatred (Rambo 4)” and “You Owe Me, Iommi.” Their last two albums were graciously titled Earth Suck and Whatever Forever. If Oozing Wound isn’t the voice of and for a generation having trouble stomaching the crap we ourselves have caused, then the old man living in the cabin deep in the woods behind my house was wrong when he told me one day, “Humanity is great, too bad about the humans.” Of course, he’s right. And he’s also right to live out in the middle of nowhere, probably mailing pipe bombs or anthrax to politicians.
Oozing Wound is the band for those teetering on the brink of their own Falling Down moment. They’re the outlet for those want to scream “Why can’t you shut the fuck up and actually listen to yourself?” A new outlet for those for whom Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle” and Wrathchild America’s “Surrounded By Idiots” isn’t cutting the sardonic mustard.
The album lights an incendiary spark as soon as the needle drops on “Surrounded By Fucking Idiots,” a song that arguably blows away everything the band has previously written by injecting thrash metal with a sorely missing vitality. That the trio isn’t beholden to a strict white hi-tops/denim vest version of the genre allows the addition of noise rock fury and souped-up sludge to the rhythmic gallop and riffing familiarity. If there’s a nether world between Lightning Bolt and Rust in Peace, it’s the propulsive slam, baritone thunder, punchy accents and devil-may-care vocal hoarseness of “Filth Chisel” and “Tween Shitbag,” the latter a vitriolic rant about music industry disposability and the commodification of art.
High Anxiety also employs inspiration from the world of crossover with Cali skate punk and NY hardcore overtones mixed into “Die on Mars” which also incorporates pre post-metal (get that?) Neurosis into the sledgehammering riffing and a caffeinated stab at Obituary’s “The End Complete” during the outro. And when the gritty power trio take their foot off the accelerator, as in “Birth of a Flat Earther,” the result is a dense and chaotic, with coruscating AmRep-like riffs knocking boots with layers of effects and Wax Trax-inspired noises. All this is done in the name of pointing out the stupidity of those who’d rather have their name in lights and be heralded as iconoclastic free thinkers instead of, y’know, actually thinking.
It’s been said since time immemorial that less than ideal socio-political conditions are the brewing cauldron for great art. So, as the world goes to hell in a gasoline-soaked wicker handbasket and everyone around you – except for you, of course – contributes to our growing problems, the dudes in Oozing Wound have got your back with a fucking killer record.