There’s something nice about having a little alone time, where you can just be by yourself, collect your thoughts, not worry about people around you bothering you with their annoying problems. But what if that alone time was permanent, and you never had to worry about another living thing ever again? Not so psyched, are you? Oh, maybe you are.
Anyway, that whole idea of being the last living being in an entire cosmos is one of the main plot points behind “Exodromos,” the new album from Spanish sci-fi death metal squadron Wormed, who haven’t released a new full-length since 2003’s mind-melting “Planisphaerium,” originally pushed into the world by Japanese label Macabre Momentos and eventually released domestically by Willowtip (Hammerheart in Europe), the purveyor of technical savagery. This new album is a prequel to that 2003 record and tells the story of Krighsu, the last human remaining in the cosmos and his chaotic visions and scientific ambitions. All of this is occurring after the known universe is sucked into a wormhole in a multi-vectorial reionization (their words, not mine) and Krighsu is left to travel through the xenoverses to repopulate the place with human seed. Problem is, Krighsu is not exactly the type of human you think he is.
OK, that’s a lot to absorb and accept, and while the story is fairly complicated and multi-layered, you don’t have to follow every plot point to get into this record. In fact, it’s damn near impossible to even follow along lyrically to this story because the vocals are wonderfully indecipherable and barely human. But we’ve come to expect that from Phlegeton, one of the weirdest, most alien-like vocalists in all of death metal. What comes out of his mouth sounds like it was created on a black world light years away, and even if you’re not into that style of vocals (and, honestly, I usually am not), you can’t help but hang onto every one of his creaked, warbled words and squealed transmissions. He is not of this world.
The rest of the band is technically astonishing as always. They’ve long been revered for their incredible musical prowess, and though they lay on their technique and wizardry fairly thick, you don’t lose the heart of the music. Perhaps it helps that the band’s songs are fairly short–these 10 songs combined clock in at just 33 minutes–so they don’t go overboard and always remember to keep you in the loop of the track. But they still find ways to dazzle and baffle you. The rest of this bizarre army, by the way, consists of guitarists Migueloud and J. Oliver, bassist Guillemouth, and drummer Riky, and their work on this second full-length surely will take the steam out of any impatience you had that it took a decade to get a new Wormed album. It was worth the wait.
Album opener “Nucleon” gives you a huge reintroduction to the band if you need one, or it turns you upside down and swishes your guts around if you don’t know what to expect. Extraterrestrial vocals, mathy trickery, and blistering death meets you head on, and before you know how to react, it’s on to “The Nonlocality Trilemma,” a mouthful of a song title and a belchy fit of madness that gets warm colors from the guitars. “Tautochrone” is a pit of fire, with the drums absolutely demolished, especially the poor snares that get beaten beyond recognition. “Solar Neutrinos” has an opening that makes you feel like you’re floating in a cosmic sea, and then weird noises erupt, melodies slip in and envelop you, and you feel like you’re being slowly into a black hole. “Multivectorial Reionization” takes things from there and reignites the violence, with mucky thrashing and more lizard squeals.
“Spacetime Ekleipsis Vorticity” is fast, dangerously so, and completely mind altering, but you have no time to recover because “Darkflow Quadrivium” is waiting, though it’s there to warp what preceded it. The pace is a bit more mid-tempo, but that’s because it’s needs to be so that the prog-style melodies and strange warbling can have a logical place to set up and further freak you out. “Stellar Depopulation” has machine gun drumming, dizzying riffs, and unforgiving punishment, capped off by Phlegeton’s vocal strangeness. “Techkinox Wormhole” has delirious lead guitar lines and a cartoon-like appeal, like it could be playing while your body hilarious suffocates and is destroyed in space. Closer “Xenoverse Discharger” is mostly instrumental, though vocals do rip through eventually, and the track is the perfect to cap off a sci-fi plot with as odd and claustrophobic a storyline as you’re going to find.
Wormed are ideal for fans who love technical prowess but still like their music to have a soul, as well as those who dig alien storylines and futuristic destruction and subsequent possibilities floating in their mindspace. This is an astonishingly well played album, but also an expertly paced one. Wormed don’t overstay their welcome and give you just enough to satisfy that decade-long wait for a new record. Hopefully the wait is not so long before we get another chapter in their intergalactic adventures.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.wormed.net/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/home.aspx
And here: http://www.hammerheart.com/