In spite of their small back catalog, Spain’s Wormed get to enjoy a quite prestigious reputation in their home genre of brutal death metal. After they released their debut album Planisphærium in 2003 it became quite silent around them and they didn’t release their sophomore record titled Exodromos until 10 years later in 2013.
Exodromos would be my introduction to this band and one of the very first brutal death metal albums that ever managed to really grab me with its sound.
The vocals were truly brutal and of the usual guttural fashion, but Wormed’s J.L. “Phlegeton” Rey manages to hit a deep tone without drifting off into the quite common gurgling sound of low end growls that I personally do not enjoy. The instrumentation in Wormed’s music has always been on another level from the vast majority of the subgenre as well. The guitars and drums vie for the attention of the listener, both violently throwing their weight around as the songs shift and the band seemingly warps through numerous compositions in just a single song.
Exodromos put a pretty strong focus on the latter. The songs were dizzying and their structure sometimes ended up feeling fractured, as the band fused so many different parts into such a short amount of time. The compositions were really technical, almost mathematical and, in places, had a tinge of slamming death metal in them.
Now, only about a third of the time it took them to release their second album later, Wormed have returned their third record, Krighsu.
The first song on this album, which was also the promotional single for Krighsu, is called Pseudo-Horizon and the band doesn’t waste any time at all, throwing the listeners into an steelbath of pummeling drums and incredibly detailed, multi-dimensional guitar riffs.
The first time I listened to this song I was blown away by the sheer otherworldliness of the riffing on this song. Right off the bat, Wormed show that they can be proud to call some of the best guitarists in death metal their own at this time. There are some incredibly intense oscillating riffs, as a friend of mine called them so fittingly, right at the start of this track before the megatons of gravitational force start to ruthlessly crush and hurl the listener around. Some of the main riffs bend and swirl in a mesmerizing way and make Pseudo-Horizon the strongest composition on this album for me. The song itself is quite straightforward and cohesive for a Wormed track. A trait that will appear more frequently throughout this album.
Pseudo-Horizon is of average length for the band, clocking in at a bit more than three minutes, which is another strong point of Wormed’s music. Rarely do they overextend. Each song is a short, but intense experience.
Moving on, we have Neomorph Mindkind and on this track the sound of the band is closer to what it was on Exodromos. More rough transitions, syncopation and changes in songwriting that can be hard to follow with only a few listens. The last quarter of the song holds a few very memorable high-pitched guitar notes, spiced up with some effects, that break through the chaos for just a moment at a time.
Shortly after that we have The Singulartarianism, a song that starts out in a way that really reminds me of something you’d hear on Decapitated’s Carnival is Forever, before the band commences their onslaught. As for more parts on this album that remind me of other bands: There is a section of the last track, Molecular Winds, that sounds similar in style to some of Gojira’s compositions.
The fifth track, Eukaryotic Hex Swarm, brings some background synths to the table. One of the more ambitious additions to Wormed’s usual repertoire on this album, that will also make its return at the end of the song A-Life Omega Point.
The synths, to me, feel like a logical continuation to the atmospheric sections that Wormed likes to position at the beginning or end of a song. Those soundscapes are still very prevalent on Krighsu and even get their own spotlight on the eighth track 57889330816.1.
Moving on from the songs in particular to the bigger picture, I have to say that the production is definitely something that Wormed improved on. The production on Exodromos was in no way bad, but I think the harder hitting bass drum and the louder guitars really do this album well. The drums end up sounding even more pummeling and the finer details of the riffs get to shine through more often. The entire band just sounds bigger, more bombastic and meatier.
As I’ve already mentioned, the songs on this album are more cohesive compared to Wormed’s previous record. The shifts in the music are still rough and violent and Wormed still love to make use of syncopation as they unrelentingly assault the listener, but the compositions are a lot less frantic and all-over-the-place in general. The slam tinge that was found throughout Exodromos was also toned down in favor of a purer brutal and technical death flavor.
Krighsu is a true beast and constitutes the album that other technical and brutal death metal bands will have to go toe-to-toe with this year.
Even though Wormed didn’t re-invent themself or their subgenre, for that matter, they showed ever so impressively that they’re one of the most technically proficient bands at that level of intensity and that their short catalog is in no way an indication for the quality of their music.
I also tend to value memorability quite highly in music and Wormed songs are incredibly hard to map. Despite having listened to Krighsu for atleast a dozen times since it became available for streaming, I still can’t say that I can flawlessly identify each song without having to look at the tracklist, which is something I’d usually tend to criticize. However, I kind of came to realize that Wormed’s songs are more of an experience than that. They are to be re-discovered with every listen and thus create a memorable experience in their own way.
Even though Krighsu pretty much fires its best shot right away with Pseudo-Horizon, this album is an effort that needs to be rewarded.