Personnel: Arif Rot (vocals); Rasyid (guitar); Vijesh Ghariwala (drums).
Recording information: Inversion Studios, Singapore.
This third album from Singapore grind merchants Wormrot is their most fully realized to date. Returning after a three-year hiatus with a new drummer, the band sound reinvigorated; they've taken a huge leap forward in terms of songwriting, and the production is second to none, bringing a hitherto unheard thickness and density to the sound that makes it hard to believe there's no bass player -- while at the same time remaining assiduously unpolished. New drummer Vijesh Ghariwala is an absolute beast, bringing a renewed fire to the band's belly with his brutal tub-thumping and inhumanly fast blastbeats. This time out, the band have also subtly incorporated influences from other metal genres to add a new dimension to their sound, such as the stunning guitar harmonies which give tracks like "Compassion Is Dead" an almost Gothenburg-like feel. Toward the end of the album, they also experiment with slower tempos on some tracks; if not for the harsh vocals, "Buried the Sun" could almost be mid-period Judas Priest before it slows to a doomy, sludgy crawl at the end. For all the new ideas, the band never forget to keep it real, bringing the old-school punk flavor with "Fake Moral Machine" and "Take Aim," while displaying a kooky sense of humor with the peerlessly titled "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Grind." There are also a couple of obligatory "microsongs" (a staple of the genre) in the eight-second-long "Dead Wrong" and the blink-and-you'll-miss-it "Still Irrelevant." Finally, the band add another string to their bow with the stunningly atmospheric, slowed-down closer "Outworn," whose cinematic scope, sludgy riffing, and complex harmonies bring to mind post-metal acts like Devil Sold His Soul and Buried Inside. This album is the perfect melding of old-school crusty grind with subtle progressive influences and top-quality contemporary production. Easily one of the year's best metal albums, it sees Wormrot standing tall with the biggest names in grind. ~ John D. Buchanan