Best Death Metal event in Boston this year, they said. I’ll say, that’s about right. All I know is that after that night I wanted war with the makers of Busch Light for calling what they sell “beer”. One could be hard-pressed to say that even Morbid Angel, happening right now as I suffer from burning eyes as a predictable aftereffect from David Firth cartoons and the imminent, if not already occurred, passing of my own grand-mère, will not top the sheer international wow-factor. Bands from both Spain AND Japan stopping by a venue the size of a rich man’s living room to absolutely level it with slabs of riff that the old masters couldn’t have imagined being a thing in our world. Come a long way from Ripping Corpse and Possessed, we have. And now the monsters of the past have something to growl in approval of.
Opening were hometown heroes and probably one of the more interesting acts around, Parasitic Extirpation, showing all the nerds that technical and unrelentingly brutal can be a combination. “Vertical Human Splicing” and “Drifing With The Dead” brought it straight to the face, and a whole host of other tracks I don’t know the name of because I don’t speak brutal growl were also delectable sides to this meaty music mountain. I was quite hungry at the time this was written.
Cognitive of New Jersey were aight. A brief melodic moment during their first or second song was the most captivating thing they played, but otherwise they were relatively inoffensive death metal filler. Kind of like a disappointing entrèe (there we go again) to fellow statesmen in Condemned, whose heaviness and tightness of sound had me altogether quite engrossed. They’re so radiantly good at death metal that one of their guitarists, who is bald, had on a Gold’s Gym sweater and I could still tell he was at least going to the show. Vocalist Angel was also funny, but I forget what he said, so take my word for it. Their most recent outing, Realms of the Ungodly, is an exercise in slamming brutal death metal done right. “Embodied In Elms Of Eternal Misery” and “Forged Within Lecherous Offerings” in particular are what a lot of modern DM bands should take notes on. Legit. Cephalotripsy (Angel’s other project) would do well to either start sounding like Condemned, or just stop existing. There’s no turning back.
The “surprise” of the night, not because they were good as expected, but better, was Tokyo’s Infernal Revulsion, bringing some Japanese brutality and sickness that fucks with deathcore, meaning that old-school mashup of hardcore rhythms and Dying Fetus-esque technicality. Hell, one of their songs almost sounded like a rip-off of the aforementioned in its beginning bars, but that’s beside the point. While it would be easy to catch wind of their existence and cast them off as another J-Waking The Cadaver wannabe a-la Gorevent, one of their guitarists does sport a Between The Buried And Me Shirt, and their sound could be likened to Vomit Remnants, who are tight as hell. Plus, they’re from Japan, and it takes a special kind of lacklustre to say that any band hailing from that magnificent land can be anything short of “pretty sweet”.
And for the crème-de la quantum-crème, Wormed, with their entirely atypical yet righter-than-many style of progressive death metal caving in your skull. The weapon of choice; a hardcover version of The Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson, because it is as mind-bending and maddening as it is enlightening.
The main factor separating Wormed from their similarly heavy peers in the genre is their lyrical subject focus. Most Brutal Death Metal bands speak lovingly of torture, (oft violent) non-consensual sex, necromantic activity of the amorous kind, sickness (spiritual, mental and physical), and of course, good ol’ fashioned homicide, to list just a few key topics on which one may base their criminal thesis. Wormed, however, looks to the sky and in theoretical textbooks for their inspiration, and are concerned with much more frightening subject matter. When one stops to consider it, life in an environment as hostile, unpredictable, and everchanging as space would be much more scary than the idea of being disembowelled, because at least then you canimagine the type of torments you will undergo before a slow and painful death. Maybe in space you’ll be doomed with the responsibility of rebuilding humanity or being sucked through a black hole to pop into another universe, where untold horrors and wonders await.
So moving onto the actual music, it fucking crushes, and is progressive, but doesn’t dip into any noodling to get the point across that the music is challenging. After over a decade of waiting for the true successor to the already ear-opening Planisphærium, came Exodromos, and the abyssal madness has been able to continue. Breakdowns and slams that hearken back to Suffocation and Cryptopsy, inspiring moves of fist completely independent of any book learning; drum patterns as dense and chaotic as those in Defeated Sanity, though with a more scientific and measured; all interspersed with samples and atmosphere that makes one visualize cold holographic displays and the burnt out husks of spaceships, the beeping and flaring of control panels, and the unintelligible gurgled colloquy opened by uncanny, fibrous monsters, supplied in vocal form by vocalist Phlegeton. If the sci-fi/horror game franchise Dead Space were a metal album, it’d be written by Wormed.
The female robotic voice naming each track only helped one feel as though they were like Major Tom in “Space Oddity”, floating without hope save for a disembodied vocal presence. If any band can claim to have captured all the uncertainty and violence of physics in empty cosmos, then it is Wormed. One can only discover what awaits by listening. Highlights of the set included “Undeciphering The Inquantificability”, “Geodesic Dome”, “Tunnel of Ions”, and the whole new album. Everything else was just a bonus.
So after being mathematically flattened and then multivectorally ionized, I returned homeward with the true Spaniard in tow, and we both regretted our neglecting to try for a photo op. A Spaniard With The Spaniards deal, perhaps. Better luck whenever, perhaps.