Wormed – Krighsu Review
As a music fan, there’s perhaps no better feeling than discovering a band who fill a gap which I never knew existed. I’d been putting off listening to Wormed since they released their sophomore, ten years in the making record Exodromos back in 2013. I was too busy listening to Gorguts’ Colored Sands; my death metal appetite was more than satisfied. Upon listening to that particular album earlier this year, I realise now that I made a huge error.
Wormed are a five piece death metal band from Spain and this year are set to regurgitate their third full-length, Krighsu, upon the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to listen and boy, do they deliver. I’m not especially a fan of modern brutal death metal/slam but bands like Cerebral Bore have piqued my interest in the past, albeit in bursts of weeks rather than months of sustained listening. However, Wormed have, by design or pure coincidence, forced a formula which is exactly what I’m looking for in this genre of music. With nods to Krallice’s hyper-speed bludgeoning, Meshuggah’s time-signature vortexes and a science-fiction theme which is verging on the ridiculous and the sublime, Wormed beat me to death in a way that is uniquely desirable.
Before I step into any sort of futile song analysis, a special, crucial mention has to go to the production on Krighsu, a part of the record which is as, if not more important than the musical content. You see, on an album such as this which relents so little, where the snare drum is hit more in one single song than in the entire Beatles back-catalogue and where the discernibility of all elements is stretched to its absolute breaking point 100% of the time, production is key. Thankfully, Krighsu boasts the best production values on a modern death metal record I've ever heard, with each instrument soaked in tone, clear as a bell and with no ear fatigue at all present at high volumes. Sure, the Dynamic Range isn’t that impressive, but there are very few dynamic parts to speak of. What Wormed do is to allow precisely the amount of range to cover the frequencies they operate in, allowing them to breathe naturally and organically. Krighsu sounds absolutely gorgeous (if you discount the sound itself, of course).
Opener Pseudo-Horizon in short, doesn’t fuck around. No atmospheric introductions here, no ‘hello, nice to meet you’ – just straight up blast-beat fury. On a record where atmosphere does play quite a crucial role later on, it’s refreshing to have such a no-frills, throat-ripping beginning such as this, as the band could have easily slathered on the conceptual elements from the get go. Actually, it’s this sort of decision which is at the heart of what makes the record so good in my opinion. I’m never allowed to get bored of a particular element because, at a succinct thirty-something minutes, Krighsu introduces its many bells and whistles so quickly and with such abandon that entire sound-worlds flash by in embryonic passing only.
Such a moment presents itself at the beginning of the second track Neomorph Mindkind when the band introduces a tantalisingly open groove which gets the enjoyment centre of my brain bobbing. Twenty seconds later, it’s gone, and we’re back to the primitive battering of its predecessor which I now enjoy even more, having just been fed a slice of comparatively ‘standard’ death metal. Wormed work expertly with these juxtapositions throughout the entire duration of the record, and it’s this weaving of a psycho-tapestry which keeps me on edge and hungry, always enjoying styles previously introduced and looking forward to new elements thrown my way. Krighsu is like a living, pulsing pool of experiences through which to hone your brain, and for this reason it’s unlike any death metal album I’ve approached before.
As the record progresses, its evolution is interesting to chart as it moves from absolute chaos to something more polished and song-orientated. Obviously these descriptors are to be taken with a pinch of salt when used in this context, but the record definitely eases up its assault and morphs into something else. The band bring in more orchestration which hangs over the wall of sound and gives me more to grasp onto, melodically speaking. The tempo feels lower, or the more complex passages are at least dialled down to processable levels and the instrumentation is allowed more room to breathe. A-Life Omega Point, Zeroth Energy Graviton and Molecular Winds close out the album with those qualities are and all superb songs in their own right, placing the emphasis back on groove and whiplash inducing changes in phrasing rather than pure speed. The album’s outro is as foreboding and epic as you’d expect, too. It’s satisfyingly evocative and the gradual silence that begins to enter my head is as haunting as the thirty minutes of extreme noise which preceded it. It feels as if a spaceship has come and gone, spilling its grizzled contents out for me to hear, and, as it disappears, only a Stockholm syndrome-esque loneliness remains. It’s a powerful and in many ways cinematic experience.
Krighsu is a rare album indeed, expertly performed by a group of musicians that are near unparalleled in their genre. Wormed do something unique, something which I can’t get anywhere else and, though I doubt strongly that it will appeal to very many people, it is a record you must hear if you’re a fan of death metal. A challenging, horrifying and intriguing journey – Krighsu is likely to be the very best extreme metal release of 2016 and very possibly the best until Wormed dust down their jumpsuits and go into hyperdrive once more. Absolutely mindblowing.
Words: Ben Armstrong