You’d think we came down with something over the last few months since bits and pieces of the new Wormrot began flooding our ears. And we did, we came down with a case of rot that’s only recently been treated. However, backtrack to July when the band first started revealing pieces from the then upcoming Voices (specifically then an album trailer). Immediately it was evident that the band had changed, but one couldn’t help but wonder how much. And in five years, something has not only changed, but the band has become even more pissed off.
Wormrot making a return is beyond welcome. And though the Singapore grind trio have parted ways with drummer Fitri, they’ve recruited the monstrous Vijesh Ghariwala. And considering the incredible assault of Abuse and Dirge, the guy had a lot to live up to. Hell, the whole band did. Churning out two grindcore masterpieces is no easy feat. But they did it. Again.
The first thing we hear is a short, distant chunk of Abuse’s “Lost Swines” before “Blockhead Fuck Off” kicks on. It’s not a slap-in-the-face to older material but rather Wormrot’s way of acknowledging the past and moving forward. Voices isn’t a blast-at-full-volume exercise. It isn’t out to be louder than the past (even though at times it is). What it is, is dynamic.
Previous releases, while excellent, oft felt like they fell into the “blast it as loud as possible” attitude. And that’s great; it’s an attitude that grindcore thrives on and Wormrot were some of the best at it. Voices steps aside from that, albiet mildly. The songs are immediately distinguishable and even more catchy than previous releases. It’s all still punk as hell, gritty and noisy but the rhythm sections on “Hollow Roots” or “Buried the Sun” bring out more than just rage that makes you wanna trash the room you are in. It’s also an album that thrives on darker moods. Take the closer track “Outworn” as an example. The piece is almost four minutes, way longer than anything the band has penned before, and features Arif Rot screaming maddeningly over a slower tempo (once the blasts are past) before the song descends into cymbals and droning guitar slams.
Meanwhile, Wormrot still has the chops to completely fuck shit up. “Shallow Standards” and “God’s in His Heaven” (the second band I’ve covered recently to make an Evangelion reference) are massive, fast as hell and chock full of blasting goodness. The ridiculous “Still Irrelevant” and “Dead Wrong” don’t even clock in over ten seconds and still fire at a thousand-miles-per-hour. The very Brutal Truth sounding “Descending into the Unknown” jumps, skips, blasts and sounds like Wormrot’s own interpretation of “Sugar Daddy.” The band also channels the mightiness of Gridlink ala “Exit Fear.”
There’s a lot going on in Voices. It’s a dizzy assortment of grindcore love and pure unadulterated aggression. Speaking of which, the band’s signature humorous song titles and lyrics has been dialed back. But it’s not entirely lost with track titles like the amazing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Grind.”
It’s blasting, thrashing, pulverizing, and it has groove. Voices is an evolution for Wormrot and is, so far, the best grindcore release of the year. It’s a massive effort and when it’s over it leaves the listener feeling exhausted. But isn’t that the way you should feel after listening to a grindcore album? Whatever the future has in store for Wormrot I can’t help but wonder. Overcoming Voices isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be a long time before grindcore gets a better album than this.