Review Summary: One step forward, two steps back.
How important is a drummer to a band? Taking the obvious out of the equation: the drummer is arguably the most important member of the band and has the responsibility of holding the entire thing together. But sit back for a second and think that some drummers carry a lot of the band's aesthetic sound -- and it's especially evident in a genre like metal; Slipknot for instance, where Joey's drumming was so charismatic, it almost spoke to you on its own. Some bands just have a member that integral to their core sound it can be devastating when something causes them to leave. Couple that thought together with grindcore though: a genre built around 50 second segments, that attempt to unleash as much anger and abrasive energy as it can muster in that time, it's a pretty obvious observation that the drumming has a fair weight to carry when writing this type of music.
Yes, Wormrot seem to be at a similar junction to where sludge metaller's Black Sheep Wall are at: creating solid music, but never quite hitting the marks they once did. The niggling feeling that despite enjoying what is on offer, there is something lacking underneath it all. And if there was ever an album to fall under this statement, it would be Wormrot's third LP: Voices
. After the face-crushing sophomore LP, Dirge
, in 2011, the band stated they would take a couple of years off to recover and write a few songs in between, after being burnt out from the hefty touring schedule they'd done to promote Dirge
. However, problems surfaced during the making of this third offering, when the band's drummer, Fitri, had to be replaced due to personal problems. This left the band to replace Fitri with new skin slammer, Vijesh.
Now, it would be unfair to blame Vijesh for being the sole reason this album lacks the same bite as its predecessor, because the truth is the album has far worse problems and he is a great player, with his drumming being solid throughout; but it can't be ruled out that he certainly holds some of what this album is lacking. There's a lack of the savage character Dirge
pertained, and it makes tracks fall a little flat at times; the likes of "Defaced", "Shallow Standards" and "The Face of Disgrace" don't have the same level of power and chaos, and this, I feel, falters from the songs drumming not being able to bring the right level of ferocity needed. The next glaring problem stems from the fact Voices
isn't quite a grindcore album. The LP contains quite a bit of melody this time around, and not in a good way: the album is littered in generic melodies and riffs that leave the flow of the album a little crooked, "Compassion is Dead", "Hollow Roots" and the closing track, "Outworn" are a few of the biggest offenders here that suffer from a bad case of fatigue from the moment they're introduced.
is not a bust though, despite the band's failed attempts at integrating these newer elements, when the band knuckle down and get to brass tacks, this LP can be a beast. "God In His Heaven", "Descending Into The Unknown" and "The 1st World Syndrome" are a few standout moments on the LP that showcase the band's visceral and destructive side, reminding us of what we know and love about this band; it's also tracks like these that prove once the band put the contrived ideas in the backburner, the album functions on all cylinders. Minus a few blips here and there, the first 15 tracks bring a decent high-quality standard of grindcore, and what you should expect from Wormrot album. Arif's vocal work on here is impressive, and he's clearly improved his vocal range in the last 5 years, bringing a decent variety of ideas to the songs here, ensuring the album avoids being mundane from his end.
But ultimately, the problem lies in Voices
having a bit of an identity crisis at times. The more accessible elements on offer here hold little excitement, and the tone of the album is never quite settled, creating a rather disjointed experience. Even talking about the good stuff on here, it still lacks the energy and fury the first two LPs were saturated in. The last 5 tracks on the album feel like a far cry from the damaging sounds Dirge
brought us: listening to the band toy around with post-rock influence, being force-fed to the band's signature grindcore sound -- it just doesn't work. It should also be mentioned that the last few tracks on here are between 2-3 minutes in length, and the time just isn't justified; compositions feel dragged out, dull or both, and it's a shame to see. A band pushing their creative limits is a beautiful thing, and I fully advocate it, but it can be dangerous ground to walk on -- definitely more so here, given the type of music this is. The melodic guitar riffs are just too generic and lackluster to meld in seamlessly with what the band do best, and the end result is one that damages the album as a whole. It has some solid moments, but some equally damaging ones too.