Words by Ezra La Vin
If music was a journey, this would be a dark detour through the cities and backwoods of America’s deep south. A strange sight-seeing tour of Louisiana’s seedy underbelly with enthralling, menacing and disturbing scenes of freak shows, evangelists, hillbillies and steaming piles of fried chicken and gravy from roadside diners along the way! It will be nasty but when it’s over you will want to do it again. WOORMS is a punk/sludge/noise trio from Baton Rouge, Louisiana featuring Joey Carbo (guitar, vox, keys, samples), John Robinson (bass, vox), and Aaron Polk (drums). With influences including Neurosis, Swans, Jesus Lizard and Helmet, be prepared for a raw, dark and heavy experience. If you liked their solid debut ‘Slake’ then you will be eagerly wanting more of the lumbering, grotesque, dungeon dwelling brutality this group offers. While ‘Slake’ was completely written by Carbo, this work is a complete collaboration between all members.
Album opener Take His Fucking Leg sets the tone straight away. A heavy, driving bass sound with the primal pounding of deep toms coupled with rousing snarls and growls with a southern twang. Sounds a bit like the early, heavy stuff Melvins released.
Escape Goat features layered vocals in tension filled, stripped back verses before pummeling the listener in relentless fashion with more of the same but only heavier and nastier. Standout track Unicorn Corn is where the journey starts to get weird. In a good way. The jarring main riff, the subterraneous bass fuzz, the eccentric guitar licks, the groovy sludge sections; all of it works in a very original way. But it’s the weird-ass lyrics that make this song great:
“He who smelt your milk,
She who slept on silk,
And all those of your ilk
It’s not by choice.
Slim is Jim, son of Tim,
And all who visit him
As to fit through his narrow door.
All rot by choice.
We rot by choice.”
Yes it’s a limerick! A weird punk/sludge/noise limerick pointing at the dietary excesses of american society with cynical, scathing attitude. The dark, sample filled, noise soundscape in Fire is a Good Servant leads into another album highlight in Silence and the Saints. A commentary on the theological idea that silence is a pathway for coming into the presence of ‘God’, and yet ironically the gods are so consistently silent when terrible things are happening. A menacing bass and drum intro gives way to nasty sludge sections with raw, tortured vocals and finally a chaotic, psychedelic outro. Beauty is a Trick of Light and Sorrow can perhaps be described as a melding of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Neurosis with a hint of dare I say, Marilyn Manson style riffing. An emotive spoken word sample with some added horns and organ gives this track a very cinematic feel.
Line features a galloping, boisterous riff with busy, technical percussion and the following lyrics: “Four white horses in a line Four white horses that ain’t mine Chop and sort them in a line” – I wonder what that’s about?
Fire is a Bad Master adds another dark, distorted, dystopian soundscape to traverse through. A tension filled, cybernetic nightmare for the senses. A bit like cleansing the palette with whiskey before going onto the next course of greasy, southern fried food. If the intro to Because They Looked Like Crosses was played on bass it would remind you of Primus. It quickly descends into a low and heavy, relentless bludgeoning riff with depraved, desperate, nasty vocals that will stay with you. The record finishes with God Botherer; a comparatively relaxing acoustic style song with violin and vocal harmonies that draw upon the haunting dynamics that Swans are so good at. A hymn to the apocalypse perhaps? After the deliciously depraved mayhem previously experienced, it feels like your sludge-bludgeoned corpse is being gently and lovingly lowered into a silk lined coffin by dark eyed angels of doom.
The following ominous warning is included in the liner notes: “Unauthorized duplication is punishable by John riding your face, reverse cowgirl, and singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in falsetto. In a beautiful and haunting falsetto.” A disturbing thought indeed.