Wormwood
Ghostlands: Wounds from a Bleeding Heart

Hailing from the fertile metal lands of Stockholm, Sweden, unsung melodic black metal outfit Wormwood appear poised to raise their modest profile on the back of their hugely impressive debut LP. Taking cues from melodic black metal legends Dissection and Naglfar and blending these influences with traces of melancholic folk and pagan metal, Wormwood’s stellar debut, Ghostlands: Wounds from a Bleeding Heart, is a confident, memorable and galloping beast of an album, powered by triumphant melodies, slick hooks and a vibrant blackened potency. Furthermore, Wormwood manage to create a sound, that while not wholly original, is delivered with such passion, creativity and innovation that they easily transcend their influences to craft a truly special debut opus.

One issue I have with folk influenced metal bands is the tendency to veer into overly jaunty or cheesy territory. Thankfully, Wormwood keep things tasteful with the general vibe brooding and melancholic, mixed with some enchanting moments of restraint, while the bouncier melodic tendencies are well balanced by the band’s overriding aggression and more forceful riffage. Although different in style and overall execution, the seamless nature in which Wormwood integrate folksy elements into an energetic metallic attack, spiced with blasts beats, tremolo melodies and groovier headbangable riffs, reminds me of Wilderun’s excellent Sleep at the Edge of the Earth album. The playful and diverse aspect of the band’s songwriting stands out, adding a groovy spark and modern sensibility to go with their prominent influences. Equal parts enchanting and foreboding, intro “Gjallarhornet” sets the scene nicely before segueing into the lively gallop of “The Universe is Dying,” a fine example of Wormwood’s vibrant riffing, infectious drumming and potent folksy melo-black combo.

Smooth and cohesive songwriting variations keeps the momentum riding high throughout the album’s hefty duration. Moments like the more joyous, fiddle-driven folk metal bounce of “Tidh ok Ödhe” are pleasingly fleshed out with the dominant raspy vocals and urgent aggression of its second half. The chorus is simply irresistible as well. Boasting evocative guitar melodies and excellent vocal variations to accompany its consistently groovy gallop, “The Windmill” is another fine example of Wormwood’s supremely well executed balance of beauty and darkness. While the abundance of top notch riffs prove to be a pivotal strength to the album, the lively drumming consistently stands out and is a driving rhythmic force propelling each well constructed song.

The gorgeous female vocals and enchanting folk instrumentation adorning the serene “Silverdimmans återsken” enlivens the album’s mystical atmosphere, contrasting delightfully against the heavier songs, such as the exuberant chunkiness of “Oceans” or the stunning atmospheric black metal of the hugely emotive and scathing “Beneath Ravens and Bones.” Elsewhere, the storming blasts and mournful melodies of later album highlight “What We Lost in the Mist” finds the band flexing their black metal muscles. If I do have a bone to pick with Ghostlands, it mainly boils down to an issue of album length. Although suitably epic and sound in composition, at nearly an hour long, parts of the album could have been trimmed to tighten the end package, though in reality there aren’t any real duds or misfires to speak of.

Wormwood’s accomplished songwriting and musicianship is strongly backed by an excellent production job. The instruments are punchy and balanced within an uncluttered mix, while the dynamic mastering lends plenty of breathing room and allows the listener leeway to pick out the detail and subtle nuances contained within. Wormwood crafted an excellent album with Ghostlands, injecting fresh and inspired songwriting and boundless energy into a tried and true sound. They largely avoid the pitfalls of folk influenced metal, by keeping the blackened elements and heavier moments at the forefront, while the slick songwriting speaks volumes of Wormwood’s impressive compositional talents and ear for melody. Overall, Ghostlands is one of 2017’s surprise packets, an accomplished debut dripping with class and a whiff of innovation that comes highly recommended.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
April 27th, 2017

Comments

  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    This is friggin great. Instant purchase.


  2. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    yeah, this is dope.


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