Review Summary: Woodland metal that doesn't demand your blood on the leafy ground?
Sometime in the spring of 2010, I developed an interest in music-as-ritual, using rock instruments and unfettered song structures to tunnel into spirit realms and alternate consciousness. Worm Ouroboros was one of the projects that attracted my attention. Released by the genius ears at Profound Lore, which traffics mostly in reality-twisting extreme metal, Worm Ouroboros plays like a prayer to draw Gaia's will up from the earth, or an intense eulogy for the failing autumn sunlight.
Song after song, guitar melodies ring like chimes struck by an inspired wind, and vocals waft through like white clad dancers in a sun-dappled clearing. The image is certainly enhanced by the early chanting, "Rowan, ash, willow, oak..." Emotive bass lines, bearing deep melodies all their own, never allow the music to float off completely into the aether but keep treading the worn paths and untouched undergrowth of the forest floor. The sparse percussion adds classy, powerful accents, even becoming gorgeous in the case of the xylophone in "Brittle Heart."
Traditional heaviness rarely rises through the gauzy, layered haze; the distorted roar is stunning when it arrives, but so alluring are the sounds and images of each song that it is never missed when it's gone. The listener is swept ever forward by the stretched melodies, mysterious percussive touches, and spectral vocals as they promise wonderful new sights around every curve; such seduction as this needs no blustering to urge us on.
Late in the album, the singer suggests "we hardly see the darkness as it's setting in," and that applies to the listening experience as well. The delicate beckoning of these songs evoke the passing of a precise moment of an exact day in a specific season, an instant that is simultaneously fragile and fleeting as well as old, permanent, and ever-returning. The music seems invested with something sylvan, feral, and only sinister to whatever profane creature might try to interrupt it. So overwhelming is the spell that, with the folky picked guitar melody overlaying the final subterranean rumble of "A Death A Birth", I feel like I'm being summoned back to the material world from my own unmarked and overgrown grave.
And I just want to go back.