Hanging from a makeshift noose and slicked with the sweat of a nightlong struggle, the corpse of Worm is death’s weight minus the mucosal feces shocked from bowel upon quietus. Glistening in the radiant ghost-lights of the swamp ragged body drips slow as if it were cattle’s flesh exorcised into tallow by burning methane and the willful echoes of old sorceries conjured before doom’d decay set in. Cloaked in slime-ridden ripples of swarming spirochete the undeath of Worm by necromantic magick cracks its neck into place and collapses back to sentience — Sightless and now wingless, the promise of corporeal dissolution by way of ‘Evocation of the Black Marsh‘ in 2017 meant deeper devotion to primordial doom, a morbid death’s sorcery halting the black flame’s power for the sake of monolithic stinking rot. What manifests, ‘Gloomlord’, is an unpure scission of death’s downward-spiraling bacterial dread so putrid it’d slip beneath the bone-stewing peat and soul-fueled furnace of Floridian hell. Demented and unbalanced for the sake of their intensely atmospheric Precambrian spiritus, Worm rouse an erratic and writhing corpse of ancient black metal origin now skinned with fresh avowals to funereal death/doom gods. The transformation is spellbinding.
If you’ve missed out on the two extensive hour-long demos from Florida based musician Fantomslaughter (aka Wurm) whilst Worm was his solo project aimed at combining extreme doom metal with the filthiest first wave black metal atrocities, few could blame you due to their rarity. At fifty self-released copies and 54+ minutes the first demo from this project (‘The Deep Dark Earth Underlies All‘, 2014) is a well-hidden gem of overblown and doomed devout black metal, a fine showcase for the talent the artist holds for whirling atmospheric values with transcendental flair. The second demo, ‘Nights in Hell’ (2016) was a full hour and an impressive jolt that’d only double its physical release in numbers. If you were lucky you might’ve secured a copy of either tape while their website was still up, and I’d randomly grab the second release based on a description online around its release. A second musician, Equimanthorn, would join at this time just as some serious interest from labels would gear up, leading the path towards Worm‘s Iron Bonehead Productions debut. The aforementioned ‘Evocation of the Black Marsh’ was well curated but underrated all the same for its spiritual resemblance of Goatlord, Mystifier and pre-Deathlike Silence black metal gloom from the hidden corners of the European underground. So, why the stylistic change if they were on such a roll? For the sake of expanding capabilities and shared atmospheric goals, judging by the sound of things to come.
The infectious nature of sincerely dark underground death/doom and funeral doom at glowing impetus in the late 80’s and insane atmospheric peak in the mid-90’s fits exactly right into the sphere of wretched consciousness that Worm inhabits. I’d guess anyone clued into the band would figure the next evolutionary step would’ve been a sloshing ‘His Majesty at the Swamp’ era Varathron-esque venture so, putting ‘Gloomlord’ on for the first time felt much like discovering a very rotten, beautifully splayed and maggot-ridden carcass. Eye-watering, heady stench-buzzing horror. As it turns out, the duo have impeccable taste in atmospheric extreme doom metal as they retain their echoing Goatlord ‘n ghastly ancient flavored blackened doom abrasion while diving headfirst into the gut-bursting havoc of Disembowelment (“Putrefying Swamp Mists at Dusk”), the twisted scriptures of ‘Lost Paradise‘ (“Rotting Spheres of Sentient Black”), and fits of screaming epic doom metal fueled lead guitars (“Apparitions of Gloom”) not far from the swaying seclusion of Mournful Congregation demos but blackened all the same.
Though you’ll see the band labeled black metal per their prior material make no mistake that this is a blackened death/doom metal record that verges on funeral doom thanks to expansive atmosphere and certain nods to the sonic language of ‘Transcendence Into the Peripheral’ and early Paradise Lost. The cleanest reference to the production sound and presence that’d collect all of these elements is probably Unholy‘s ‘From the Shadows’ but Worm‘s sound is not so melodramatic or eclectic, favoring Esoteric‘s rumbling echo on ‘Esoteric Emotions – The Death of Ignorance’ tape with an extra layer of vocal aberration and blackened death metal thrust.
All of the best elements Worm have infused into their evolved-but-ancient sound blend most memorably on the earlier trio of songs that make up its first half whereas the second half of the album hits upon a more direct death metal influence. Initial impressions felt inconsistent for the mixture ‘Gloomlord’ represents bearing elements of classic Finnish, British, and North American atmospheric death/doom metal and applying them to an acid-soaked first wave black metal snarl. In fact I’d initially disliked the echoing Havohej-esque vocal effects applied but, upon returning to ‘Reflections of the Solstice’ my appreciation of Worm had doubled for its extension far beyond that dark and original atmosphere. “Melting in the Necrosphere” is where the puzzle of the record slams into place, the full ambition of the ‘Gloomlord’ is conveyed in summation, and Worm made their deepest impression. Compounding this feeling with an 11 minute finale might’ve been overkill but exactly the right sort of overkill for an extreme doom metal album. Rawly underground and off-kilter yet highly conceived in terms of sound design, I cannot help but be compelled to give high recommendation of the second album from this impressive duo.
High recommendation. 4.25/5.0
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