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The debut Wormed album attracted lots of attention from brutal death fans upon its release in 2003 due to its suffocating atmosphere, inhumanly low vocals, and its oddball lyrics and premise. I found it to be a strangely appealing album at the time and ten years later (!), it sounds even better.
The production is a fuzzy murk of downtuned guitars overdriven to near obscurity, vague bass rumbles, Phlegeton’s unique vocal gurgles, plus the real standout element of the music, Andy C.’s jazz-inspired drumming. He blasts his way through much of the album and slows the tempo down for off-kilter slams here and there, and his playing is always peppered with odd fills (as in “Voxel Mitosis”) that are much more dynamic than the average brutal death metal drummer. And sometimes, such as in “Geodesic Dome,” he plays a syncopated beat at an unexpected moment, which adds to the uniqueness of this record.
Wormed's riffs, courtesy of guitarists J. Oliver and Charly and backed up by bassist Guillemoth, merge the style and complexity of technical death metal with brutal death metal heaviness, all shrouded in that mysterious space dust that coats the production of the whole album. The riffs twist in and out of standard time signatures, creating an unpredictable atmosphere where the listener can always expect volatile shifts. When the bass playing gets a spotlight, such as the weird bridge of "Voxel Mitosis," it provides a welcome break from the buzzy insanity of the riffage.
Phlegeton, the band's vocalist and lyricist, is an unusual presence on the record and part of what makes it so special. His growls are disturbingly low and there are moments during a few intros and outros of songs where his vocals stand unaccompanied for a second or two, and they sound appropriately alien. His lyrics are, of course, completely indecipherable, but reading them reveals a dense fabric of oddly-phrased sci-fi references. An example from "Pulses in Rhombus Forms," reads: "Two dimensions used / Plus strange cosmic hole / Organism likes spectra fusion / In this strange rhombuillision." What does that mean? Who knows. But no other death metal band writes stuff like this and I appreciate their attempt to paint a picture with the lyrics.
Planisphærium’s fast passages shred, the slam parts are knuckle-draggingly heavy, the weirdo psychedelic bits pop up for a few seconds here and there to keep the listener on his toes. The album is only about 25 minutes long, which always leaves me wanting more. I’m not sure Wormed will ever be able to top this album without Andy C. playing drums, but at least the brutal death community will always have Planisphærium for when they’re in that otherworldly mood.