Wormwood
The Star

Sweden’s Wormwood burst onto the melodic black metal scene with 2017’s excellent Ghostlands, followed up by Nattarvett, the first of a planned trilogy of albums. Part two of the trilogy, 2021s Arkivet saw the band take a melancholic downturn befitting the tale of mankind’s general shittiness.

I was hoping for a return to the more urgent stylings of the debut, but when the opening track, “Stjärnfall” starts, I immediately knew that The Star, the trilogy’s conclusion was going to be another more somber effort. However, it is still a superb album.

The word I kept coming back to for this album is ‘exquisite‘. The compositions, and the choruses ( especially the child-like choral arrangements used on a few tracks, are knee-wittingly good at times, even if less urgent than the first 2 albums. The riffs, at times border on Sentenced-like despondency (just listen to the opening riff of the second track “A Distant Glow”), just with a black metal sheen. Not suicidal like Shining though…. just wondrously emotive.

The Star is such a beautifully crafted album at every turn. Even with the somber tones. The rare expulsions of more fierce melodic black metal are a welcome joy when they do happen. But when you take each track in as a whole, it’s one of the most wondrously forlorn albums of the year.

The aforementioned opener “Stjärnfall” has both a superb melodic blast beat and one of the childish choral arrangements in its climax, making it a perfect opener and glimpse into the next 6 lengthy tracks. “A Distant Glow” plods with a steady gait, but has a chorus to die for.

“Liminal”  and “Galactic Blood” pick up the pace a little with stern mid-paced marches, but still dripping with melancholy, and even when “Galactic Blood” delivers a melodic tremolo blast- its emotional depth is not lost. The same can be said for the short blasting mid-section of the following song “Thousand Doorless Room”, but the last few minutes steal the show with a climax that’s a real melodic gut punch.

“Suffer Existence” is initially the album’s most visceral, traditional melodic black metal song. But its chord progression, folky little jaunt, and tear-inducing chorus are just hypnotic and make it one of the album’s best tracks if not one of the year’s most emotive songs.

“The 10-minute “Ro” ends the album as a three-album concept should be ended; beautifully, epically, and with all the emotions rolled into one track, putting an endnote on an album that is a masterpiece of hauntingly beautiful, somber black metal.

But now the story is told, can get back to the more biting, blistering melodic black metal of the debut, please?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 2nd, 2024

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