In an ideal world twenty minute grindcore albums should not take this long to make, but we and more to the point WORMROT sadly do not live in an ideal world. It’s this feeling that permeates every inch of Voices, WORMROT’s third full-length (as trivial as that word may seem in grindcore) and their follow-up to the critically acclaimed Dirge finally seeing the light of day after five years of turmoil and confusion that has seen the Singaporean’s drummer fall off the radar forcing them to replace him and has seen them cancel tours due to compulsory military service in their home country.
Given the events leading up to its creation, the content of Voices should perhaps not be as surprising as it is, but indeed it is so. On the surface, not a lot may seem that different, but there are subtle hints. Voices is a little more esoteric as a title than Dirge or Abuse, and while Dirge fit 25 songs into 18 minutes Voices fits just 20 into 26. That’s not to say WORMROT have made a funeral doom album which is mental to even imagine, but Voices is undoubtedly WORMROT at their most mature and considered thus far, and those with a keen ear will find many elements here that WORMROT in the past have never truly played with to such a degree.
The core focus of their sound does not dwindle in the slightest, and on Voices WORMROT are as vitriolic as ever. The diplomatically titled Blockhead Fuck Off kicks things into gear straight off the bat with a flurry of serrated riffing and machine gun snares, new drummer Vijesh bringing a fresh intensity that is vital lifeblood. Micro-songs lasting just a few seconds zip by as usual in the form of Dead Wrong and Still Irrelevant proving that while reined in (there’s no Butt Krieg is Showing on this record) WORMROT still have a sense of humour, and gut-busting NAPALM DEATH grooves rear their heads in Fake Moral Machine and Fallen Into Disuse. The latter has all the hallmarks of a setlist staple as easily the catchiest thing on show here, the initial chug following vocalist Arif’s barked “Go!” being ushered into blistering trauma with a guttural scream.
Rasyid’s guitar though along with the standard grind tricks frequently delves into more dynamic territory, utilising tones and a palette which really set Voices apart. This is first truly noticeable on second track Hollow Roots, an unconventional approach shared by tracks like Shallow Standards and its vehement final third in which the guitars border on melodic. It’s technically impressive but equally as emotionally impactful, and WORMROT save Voices’ most expansive strokes of the brush for its last five tracks which together take up almost half of the album runtime. Compassion is Dead has Arif at his most bestial let loose atop instrumentation that is as sombre as it is pacey, and the clincher comes with Outworn which at nearly four minutes is the longest song of WORMROT’s career. It’s a song that builds where other bands would be content to simply destroy, Arif’s cracking vocals conveying a genuine distraught plea as the guitars and drums advance and build to a jaw-dropping crescendo. The breadth of ideas within such a brief and condensed package is something the greatest grindcore records share, and with Voices WORMROT are now peers of the likes of CLOUD RAT, PIG DESTROYER and were they still to be with us GRIDLINK in their willingness to mess with the template and prove grind can be so much more than is often perceived. It’s a fascinating development which should be applauded, and makes the prospect of future WORMROT material that hopefully will not take as long to formulate all the more exciting.
Voices is set to be released on October 14th through Earache Records.
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