REVIEW: Wormwood (Self-titled EP)

wormwood

WORMWOOD
Self-titled EP
Magic Bullet Records
(Released October 2014)
8/10

These five songs are the sound of happiness being shouldered onto a butcher’s block and cleaved into tiny red pieces. Wormwood create bleak, raging sludgy doom that hits hard and echoes long in the memory, begging for repeat plays. Magic Bullet Records is a US-based indie known for its innovative punk and metal acts, and in Wormwood they have revealed a sharp new talent laced with violence and vitriol.

There is a sparsity and ugliness to Wormwood’s songwriting that underscores the Boston duo’s vision of negativity. This EP was recorded in all-analogue at Boston’s Mystic Valley Studios in a process that is laborious but worth the effort. In this case, Wormwood were not searching for a retro/vintage vibe, but rather for a simple, stark heaviness in order to convey their message of hopelessness. So while the compositions are lean and tight, the sound is fat and meaty.

This self-titled EP marks a debut not only for the band but also for Chris Pupecki as a lead vocalist. In his other outfit, Doomriders, Pupecki had only ever contributed backing vocals, and so he was stepping into the unknown on this recording. His performance here is remarkable: a breathless Tom G Warrior in a hardcore world.

On songs such as ‘White Plague’ Pupecki’s voice – as well as his guitar and bass – lends a sense of Celtic Frost-meets-Cerebral Fix-meets-Gang Green, perhaps with an undertone of Godflesh. And while in Doomriders he steers clear of pedals, here he has been set free to get as fuzzed-out and/or crusty as he likes. Long-time friend and cohort Chris Bevilacqua pummels his drum kit with equal venom. There is a wild freedom to this EP that is exciting and invigorating.

Lyrically, Pupecki engages in the timeless protestations of the alienated. “I’d rather die… than live your life… look what we’ve done” he storms on the brilliant ‘I’d Rather Die’. This track is perhaps the most memorable of them all, although each song is a concise and intelligently edited-down snapshot of spite, refusal, rebellion and dejection. Rarely is the manifestation of misery such a positive, enjoyable experience.

http://magicbulletrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wormwood-s-t

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