Wormhole
The Weakest Among Us

Tapping into an intriguing mix of tech death and slam, Wormhole aim to expand upon the impressive groundwork laid on their 2016 debut, Genesis, a recent discovery of mine after initially overlooking the album. Some line-up tweaks failed to dull the impact of Wormhole’s cutting edge brand of technical sophistication meets guttural slam approach, and while perhaps not as instantly gratifying and catchy as its predecessor, sophomore platter, The Weakest Among Us, is a more than worthy successor. Wormhole manage to stand out from the pack, chiselling their own space within the crowded landscape of the brutal death scene, while sharing some stylistic similarities with impressive labelmates, Blade of Horus.

Perhaps it’s the injection of new blood, including an actual drummer, but The Weakest Among Us sounds like a more fluid, organic effort full of confidence and swagger. Perihelion‘s Anshuman Goswami fills the void left by past vocal terrorists Duncan Bentley (Vulvodynia) and Calum Forrest (Pancrectomy) admirably, providing a suitably brutal array of vocal excretions. Otherwise it’s largely business as usual for the band, once again demonstrating their supreme technical chops across the board. Sanjay and Sanil Kumar channel past legends of technical and brutal death while firmly creating their own firm impression. The duo unleashes warp speed riffing, dazzling technicality, controlled discordance, ripping solos, and filthy slam grooves, amid shimmering melodic embellishments, keeping things sharp and memorable in the process. Bassist Alex Weber deserves special mention, beefing up the overall sound and constantly demanding attention with the strong melodic counterpoint his playing provides.

The title track kicks the album off with solid momentum; a blasty, technical mix of dissonant melodies, killer bass, and meaty grooves. Across the album there are no glaring weak links, however, a couple of tracks don’t resonate as powerfully as the stronger cuts. “rA9_myth” chugs along, delivering brutal uppercuts and mid-paced pummel, but lacks dynamics and genuinely memorable riffs. Similarly, the ludicrously titled, “Wave Quake Generator Plasma Artillery Cannon,” though not without its strengths, including a bedazzling solo, fails to grip as tightly as the bulk of its counterparts. Neither song is bad by any means, but they fall short of the standard set by the likes of the twisting and propulsive “The Gas System” and frantic, sleek futuristic vibes and excellent merging of tech and slam components on “Quad MB.” The album comes to a gripping, sick slamming climax on the diverse and exploratory “Ingswarm.”

If I have a knock against The Weakest Among Us, the song-writing is not being quite as distinctive or memorable as the material from Genesis. However, it’s also a densely layered beast with so many intriguing twists and turns within a complicated framework, that I can imagine picking up subtleties and elusive hooks for months to come. In this regard, the album seems to be a grower, with potential for its true impact to be felt in the months to come. Although, the complex, brutal battery threatens to overwhelm, the album remains grounded and is a surprisingly palatable listen. Clocking-in at just under the half hour mark, Wormhole wisely don’t overstay their welcome. Production is solid if a little too compressed, while the mix has a few quirks that may be off-putting for some listeners but is by no means a deal breaker.

January is often lagging in notable releases, but Wormhole and a handful of others are bucking the trend, building towards what shapes as another bumper year of heavy music across the extreme spectrum. The Weakest Among Us finds Wormhole honing and refining their established sound, thus avoiding the sophomore slump with a tight, bruising and adventurous platter of brutal death, carving out a strong marriage between guttural slammy power plays and sophisticated tech embellishments.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
April 8th, 2020

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