without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Singapore's Wormrot has been causing a stir in the international grindcore scene, especially with the signing on to Earache Records and having their debut full length album reissued with bonus tracks - quite an achievement, considering that they were formed only back in 2007.
Wormrot themselves have claimed that they do not intend to bring anything new to the grindcore scene, but to celebrate and play what they enjoy playing the most. Their influences from classic grindcore bands are clearly prominent on their songs, such as Insect Warfare and Pretty Little Flower. I'll admit, I'm no big grindcore fan but Wormrot's Abuse has managed to capture my attention.
In true grindcore fashion, their songs are all extremely short, with most songs merely hitting the 1 minute mark and the entire album of 23 songs spanning a mere 22 minute. The guitar tone on this album especially stood out, with the low riffs being extremely crushing yet the high riffs clear and biting at the same time. Arif's alternating vocal styles between a low guttural growl, pig squeals and hardcore shouts, at times layered to each other, display his versatility at different types of vocals. The drumming on this album also has to be mentioned. While the beats may sound simple, it certainly takes lots of stamina to pull it off, with Fitri abusing the drum set right from the start all the way through to the end of the 22 minutes.
The band also has tongue in cheek lyrics, such as on the 8-second track So Fierce For Fuck!? The band also writes about memorable times such as on the tracks Good Times and Indonesia. There is even an ambitious cover of Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Rich, further showing the band's ability to have fun while being serious at the same time.
It cannot be stated enough that grindcore isn't eveyone's cup of tea. It's just so goddamn grating, so . . . grindy. And because of that, many shy away from it. But grindcore has the potential to be extremely brilliant music. Unfortunately, grindcore's heyday has passed, and nowadays, the grind scene is rather stagnant. Much like any other form of music, grindcore has its elite and its duds. The duds really do suck, in my humble opinion. But the good ones are really fucking good. Wormrot, a relatively new band from Singapore (of all places), happens to be one of those "really fucking good" grindcore bands that aren't too prevalent in this day and age.
I won't make a big hubbub about how these guys are from the unassuming country of Singapore because I see so many people lose their shit when a good band spawns from an unlikely area (e.g. Infertile Surrogacy from Congo). It's a fun fact, but it's unimportant. What IS important is the music found here on "Abuse." Of course, a song-by-song break-down of a grindcore release is a.) too lengthy, b.) unneccesary, and c.) stupid, so I'll critique the individual performances.
On vocals, we have Arif. I'm unsure as to why the members' last names aren't disclosed. I guess people from Singapore (Singaporians? Probably not.) are too cool to have last names, Regardless of Arif's lack of surname, he's a damn good vocalist. Grindcore calls for extreme vocal styles, and he nails these styles with aplomb. His high screams are piercing and have a sick tone. His lower growls are gnarly. Even his odd, muffled hardcore-esque shout, while annoying at first, grows on you, as the listener begins to realize that grindcore is essentially an offshoot of hardcore punk, thus warranting the use of such vocals. His vocal patterns are in time with the instruments, giving each song a more cohesive feel. Also, the variation of vocal styles keeps things interesting; he doesn't stick to any particular style for too long. Give it up for this guy, he tore up his vocals cords perfectly.
The guitar work is handled by Syid. Now, I don't think it'd be a dangerous assumption to make that every grindcore riff has already been written and recycles a hundred times over, given the long history of grind, the amount of practitioners of the style, and sheer amount of songs on basically any given grindcore release. So how exactly should a grind guitarist go about sounding "good" in this day and age? To tell you the truth, I have no clue. So, is Syid's riffing original? Not really. It's very thrash- and punk-inspired (see "Freedom to Act"), with a good amount of powerviolence thrown into the mix. But the riffs still manage to sound aggressive, which I'm sure is exactly what he was striving for as he wrote his parts. Catchy, too. A good riff in any form of music has to be catchy enough to stick in your head, and Syid does a damn good job at grinding one of his riffs into your head, only to be replaced by another one. I won't knock the guy for not being completely original, for it's nigh impossible to be in grindcore anymore. I shall do the exact opposite and praise him for his work, because he crafted an excellent array of catchy grind riffs that give the album a big boost. Kudos.
Perhaps the highlight of this release is drummer Fit's relentless bashing of his kit. If I was to make a painfully bad joke, I would say "man, this guy has to be 'fit' to play this stuff, har-har" but I don't want to embarrass myself. In all seriousness though, his performance behind the skins is one that requires a good amount of stamina and ability. Being a grindcore drummer, it is essential for Fit to go a million miles a minute, and boy does he ever. Yes, he slows down, but very infrequently. For the most part, he's blasting, half blasting and D-beating the Christ out of his drums. His blast beats range from your typical 190 BPM Repulsion-style blasts to much faster ones hovering in the 250-270 BPM range. The D-beat is also used in abundance here, which is good since it's just a catchy-as-hell beat that'll have almost any extreme music fan bobbing their head. He also lays down a few grooving, thrashy beats from time to time, like at the halfway mark in "Murder." Perhaps my favorite percussive moment on this album are the sickeningly catchy triplet blasts found on the Yeah Yeah Yeah's cover, "Rich." For the record, this track bears no resemblance to that which it based upon, and it's a fantastic song to boot. Fit is a monster behind the kit, and yes, I rhymed.
My fingers are cramping up from writing this review. Plus, it's quarter of 5 in the morning at current time, so I think it's about time I moved onto the end of the review. The mix is astoundingly good for a grindcore release. The guitar has a fantastic, chainsaw-esque high-end and a solid, crunchy low-end, so whoever EQ'd has a knack for mixing grindcore guitar. The snare, the kick, toms, and each overhead sound organic and natural, and never devolve into mud. The vocals are powerful but not overwhelming. The band lacks a bassist, but the great guitar sound pretty much makes up for it. Being a Live Sound and Recording Engineering major in college, I enjoy hearing a well-produced album. Huzzah for good mixing. In the end, "Abuse" winds up being one the best grindcore releases in years, and definitely one of the best, if not THE best, of 2009. Grind fans will eat this up. Fans of other extreme music, give it a shot; if you're gonna give grindcore a shot, this is certainly an album to listen to for perspective. Wormrot: keep grinding, dudes.
"Here's your Patriot Act! Here's your fucking abuse of power!" Wormrot's Abuse opens with this sample from the cell phone video that captures Iranian-American student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, being tasered in the UCLA library after refusing to show his ID to officers during a "random" ID check. Despite the nature of this opening sample, Wormrot is neither an American nor a full-blown political band. These grind fiends actually hail from the unlikely locale of Singapore. Singapore is not exactly a hotbed for excellent grindcore bands, but Wormrot proves to be an exception. And while the band does have songs about political and social issues, they do not limit themselves to just those lyrical areas. Wormrot produces a grinding racket similar to old-schoolers like Brutal Truth and Napalm Death with a hint of modern bands like Magrudergrind.
Wormrot consists of Arif (vocals), Rasyid (guitar), and Fitri (drums). That's right. They don't have a bass player. It doesn't really matter though. The three members create so much noise that you will never even notice. Arif's (also of Flesh Disgorged) vocals usually alternate between a high scream and a low growl in a manner similar to Brutal Truth's Kevin Sharp. In a handful of songs he throws in a weird, muffled hardcore voice that sounds like a constipated dude yelling while being suffocated with a pillow. Fortunately, these vocals only appear in a few songs. Otherwise, Arif's voice is very impressive. His lows are strong and his highs are never too screechy or grating. Rasyid plays heavily distorted punky guitar riffs that at times recall Terrorizer, Napalm Death, and maybe even Nailbomb. He is never particularly flashy, but he does a nice job of playing catchy parts that fill the space left vacant by the lack of a bass player. Fitri's drumming helps liven up the songs with everything from fast punk beats to grindcore blasting.
While overall Wormrot is far from original, the members are not afraid to throw in some different ingredients here and there to make songs stand out. "Fuck...I'm Drunk" features a groovy melodic riff that is uncharacteristic of the rest of the album, and a galloping riff and gang vocals make an appearance in "Murder." Abuse even features a cover of "Rich" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This cover version is totally unrecognizable unless you read the track listing. Once you know what song it is, you may actually recognize it on the next listen. In true grindcore fashion, most of the songs on Abuse are extremely short. There are twenty-three tracks in almost as many minutes. Some songs are a mere ten seconds or so, while others feel more like "real" songs and break the one minute mark. Nevertheless, the songs on Abuse neither feel like a novelty nor a joke. This is excellent grind that drops in, fucks shit up, and gets out with a quickness.
I am very picky when it comes to grindcore, and I must say that Abuse is one of the best grind releases I have heard in a long time. This album is never annoying or overly quirky. Even though there is really nothing about Abuse that is new, it is a great release that is easy to recommend to grind fans. After it's twenty-two minutes fly by, I am ready to throw it on again and receive my next bludgeoning. With a little more time, Wormrot may take the torch as the leader of grind today.
A note on this release: Earache signed Wormrot after Abuse had already been released by another small label in 2009. Earache has reissued Abuse with a second disc of 34 bonus tracks entitled Extra Abuse, which I do not have to review. This second disc collects a large portion of Wormrot's other recorded material. Among these bonus songs are tracks from a demo, a split, and an EP.
Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com
I have to admit I'm no connoisseur of grindcore. I live for Napalm Death, love early Carcass, worship Nasum and crank some occasional Terrorizer. But when I dig deeper into the world of grind, I'm usually driven away by some piece of the modern grindcore aesthetic. When a grind album does resonate with me, it's usually because it leans towards the death metal side of things. I'm a sucker for grooves, discernible riffage and just a bit of breathing room. Abuse, the absurdly awesome debut album from Singapore's Wormrot, has all of that and more. I'm pretty sure this album is essential for any fan of extreme metal.
When I first put on Abuse in the comfort of my own home, I felt an immediate physical reaction to the album. Within seconds I was raging around my downstairs, gesticulating wildly, like a demented Barney Greenway. My home is conveniently laid out to facilitate one man circle pits. I can only be thankful that the thing clocks in at under 22 minutes; one more minute and my head would have flown off my shoulders and my heart would have exploded.
Abuse is a godlike clinic of grind riffage. Each of the 23 songs is driven by addictive, simple, effective and memorable guitar lines. The guitar sound is to die for. When a groove kicks in, I want to eat this guitar tone. Something about the sound literally makes me salivate. What the hell does that mean?
Stylistically, the guitar work sticks mostly to the grindcore ideal. It's so familiar and so refreshing at the same time. The main riff in “Good Times” is preposterous. 54 seconds into “Freedom to Act,” a riff appears with a bent note melted into the groove that will bend your brain. If you don't bang your head 40 seconds into “Murder,” then you should surrender your badge. When guitarist Rasyid deviates from the expected, the results are spectacular. 30 seconds into “Fuck...I'm Drunk,” a melodic riff evokes a mutated, ground up Iron Maiden. Win.
The vocals are exactly what you'd expect – guttural gurglings versus satisfying screams. The lyrical subjects are just what I like – political and social awareness tinged with dark humor. The cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song “Rich” is absolutely hilarious.
The drumming is fantastic, precise and damned good. There are a plethora of rhythmic styles represented on Abuse. More species of blast beats live here than my weak grind taxonomy can identify.
Have I raved enough? Wormrot are unfathomably awesome in my book. Abuse will certainly be among my favorite albums of the year. Brief, to the point, and expertly articulated, this album is a near perfect expression of the things I like about grindcore.
Originally published here: http://atanamar.blogspot.com/