Cleveland by way of Denver’s miscreant spew-hounds Nekrofilth shriek and slam like a nerve strummed by a dull knife. Zack Ripper‘s (ex-Nunslaughter) Slayer-ized, cranked and steroid-fucked hardcore/crossover punk energy flings from his mouth as ‘Worm Ritual’ sprays hydrochloric acid upon the mind. A true scraping of the shit that insulates the skull by way of 80’s hardcore punk, thrashing hell upon earth, death’s grinding nascence and a grisly load of jaw-melting acidic surge of first wave black metal sewer jizz will blow your mind if you, like me, cling to the idea that those ‘Undisputed Attitude’ 80’s hardcore covers of Dr. Know, D.I. , T.S.O.L. and such were a revelation straight from Satan’s vinyl collection. I’d never heard a damn thing anywhere near as intense until ‘Devil’s Breath’ landed in my lap in 2013 as a disgusting and revolting mix of primitive death metal and hardcore punk. Though the conscious ‘metal’ punch of the record and escape from sexualized ‘juvenilia’ could be perceived as major points of change, ‘Worm Ritual’ is still a front-and-center seat to witness the same old raw-exposed nerve Nekrofilth have brought for the last decade.
While my first impressions of this album skew towards recognition of classic early 80’s West Coast hardcore punk (see: Oxnard / L.A. circa ’81-’88) rhythmic structures and performance it’d be hard to miss the overbearing influence of proto-death and first wave black metal that informs Ripper‘s guitar work. The lineage is more obvious on ‘Worm Ritual’ as Ripper‘s upfront hardcore snarl on ‘Devil’s Breath’ is now stuffed with scrap metal and rotting gore creating an even more menacing N.M.E. and Slaughter influenced sound. The darker smear of Nekrofilth‘s Repulsion-esque proto-death stomping never goes full blown thrash; By emanating the spirit of Sodom‘s ‘Witching Metal’ and sounding like a war metal band covering ‘Strappado’ several catchy, banging tunes result. “Ready to Defile” hits right away and barely escapes comparisons to both old dirty thrashers like At War or new knobs like Shitfucker.
The pure mania of ‘Worm Ritual’ largely comes from Ripper‘s taste in, and aim towards, proto-extreme metal savagery but I could imagine some of the generally light change in sound now comes from the trio being newly rounded out by two members of blackened thrashers Weapönizer. No doubt they’re at least partially responsible for the viral spasms of ‘Unholy Death’-esque blackened thrashcore and Hellhammer-ed intensity of ‘Worm Ritual’. The full listen is novel and anthemic in its depraved hardcore death thrust but I would say it is still a 50/50 skew either way despite the heavier steel influencing this second album’s sound. The bass guitar tone hits like an wooden bat to the spine and becomes inescapably clangorous on tracks like “Night of the Leech” and “They Took My Skin”. Beyond smartly matched sub-genres, conceptual filth, and a doggedly barked fascination with memorable riffs the massively plodding shred of the album represents a perfect level of hardcore aggression, not unlike Cryptic Slaughter at their youngest.
The proto-death/first wave blackened hardcore punk style of Nekrofilth is interesting enough when set in motion but the ‘Beat the Bastards’ level of furious intensity (see: “Cruel Addiction”) that kicks up throughout this album wouldn’t resonate with me without Ripper‘s unflinchingly dynamic hardcore influenced songwriting. It isn’t enough to be -this- defiant and repulsive in sound to succeed and thankfully the deep wound at the heart of Nekrofilth‘s dumpster-marinated death rituals is only improved on their sedond full-length. As a listening experience it is adrenaline, rage, a raw nerve always firing in response to pain. I found that my time with ‘Worm Ritual’ amounted to bursts of 3-4 full spins and then a break for 2-3 days, and this is consistent with my regular 80’s hardcore record interests. So, for my own tastes this is a ‘best of both worlds’ as a proper representative for metal’s punk-fueled extremism and actual hardcore music. Highly recommended, this easily makes it onto my ‘Top 50’ releases of the year. For preview I’d just suggest my favorite tracks “Cruel Addiction” as an incredible Venom ‘n crust ripper along with the standout duo of “Ready to Defile” and “Night of the Leech”.
Phrenic accelerant. 4.5/5.0
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