Review Summary: Towards a wider, colorful swamp
Conceived by Fantomslaughter as a one-man black metal project, Worm has been undergoing a metamorphosis throughout its journey, both stylistically and structurally. Equimanthorn's addition to the band's lineup in 2017 and the increasing inclusion of death-doom elements into Worm's musical formula were arguably the most relevant changes. Fantomslaughter's emotional attachment to the swamps of his native Florida has remained a constant nevertheless, proving to be the suitable conceptual cement to solidify the transition into muddy death-doom territory. Even though I'm not an avowed admirer of the band's portfolio up until now, I still value these mutations as they represent the band's creative foundations while mirroring the evolution of their musical personality. This willingness to evolve is still very much present on Foreverglade
, as a matter of fact, it has never been more apparent. The recruitment of L. Dusk as session drummer and Nihilistic Manifesto as lead guitarist, as well as more refined sound engineering, embody Fantomslaughter's desire to move forward; to enrich Worm's music in all its aspects.
The opening songs, 'Foreverglade' and 'Murk Above The Dark Moor', attest to this musical upgrade. Despite carrying Gloomlord's
muddy style, they now possess greater technical prowess, notably the rhythm section and guitar solos, which assume a more significant role in the songwriting department. While I admit the technical component is certainly not the most valuable asset within death-doom soundscapes, I've always cherished it. A music concept without proper technique can never be fully expressed; even in cavernous, sludgy death metal. 'Murk Above The Dark Moor' stands as the pinnacle of this more refined approach, featuring some of the album's best moments, namely the mighty Bolt Thrower-ish riff in the middle section or its epic guitar solo. The Spectral Voice-esque doom signature, already present on the previous record, has fully matured. The title track, 'Cloaked In Nightwinds' or 'Centuries Of Ooze' all share this slow-paced aesthetic, with the particularity that it now manifests itself with greater confidence, thus echoing the aforementioned improved dexterity. The melodic 'Subaqueous Funeral' and the Insomnium-ish segments in 'Empire Of The Necromancers' also mirror the will to add more color and contrast to the murky sound palette, as well as the tempo changes in 'Centuries Of Ooze' that lend greater dynamism to a formula that rarely wanders outside doom territory. The Celtic Frost-ish section in 'Cloaked In Nightwinds' and closing track’s powerful slow-paced march are other moments that caught my attention, not exactly for their originality but for displaying some of the attributes I admire most in the genre.
As the artwork implies, Foreverglade
is a step towards a wider, colorful swamp, or in other words, a leap into bolder territory, both musically and technically. The old stench is still very much present, but now with a lusher, more airy fragrance, unveiling significantly more vibrant soundscapes. By spreading their wings, Florida's swampiest crew spawns not only their best effort to date but also one of the year's most interesting (blackened) death-doom releases. Hopefully Worm will continue down this creative path in the years to come.