WORMROT STRIVE TO BE SINGAPORE’S CHIEF EXPORT ON ABUSE
Wormrot’s story is the stuff of Horatio Alger. The band hail from Singapore (about which, I admit, all I really knew was that it’s in Asia and there’s a Tom Waits song named after it) and released a grind album apparently so good that when Earache head honcho Digby Pearson heard it, he signed them to a Stateside distribution deal, despite coming upon the album the way many of us had at that point– via file-hosting website/illegal album downloading hub Mediafire. While it may be easy to think Wormrot could be reduced to bullet point in a discussion on the positive aspects of file-sharing or considered more tale than band, this is couldn’t be further from the truth: the band’s first full length, Abuse (the most hilariously understated album title since Cannibal Corpse’s Kill) is good enough to jump across oceans and put a smile on the face of even the most jaded metalhead. Many referred to Abuse as 2009’s best grind album, an arguably true statement even in a year where Napalm Death and Brutal Truth released their best (and first, in the latter’s case) in years. If one counts the Earache reissue as a 2010 release, they’re still the dudes to beat, and may even give Pig Destroyer a run for their money. Abuse is that good, and solidifies Wormrot as a band to enjoy in the present tense as well as one with whom to grow.
Grindcore is a hard thing to craft, especially for newer bands, but most of the genre’s pitfalls are ones Wormrot avoid pretty successfully. While grind’s lesser talents focus on making “songs” with the staying power of ipecac then packing as many of them as possible on one album, the good ones know how to make the most of the sliver of time the have. And clearly Wormrot have been paying attention: they’ve got the speed and muscle of Napalm Death, the penchant for hardcore also shared by Brutal Truth and Repulsion, and the riff know-how of Pig Destroyer. But even though there’s an obvious debt paid to their forefathers, it feels fresh and owned by the band. Their rawness and energy is unreal, and helps pepper their songs — whether the “You Suffer”-length “So Fierce for Fuck” or the relatively epic two minutes and fifteen second closer “Scum Infestation and Last Song” — with a sense of urgency and purpose, an attack so vicious that one doesn’t wish it to last longer. Wormrot are ragged and pointed, simultaneously well-rehearsed and full of the sense that the band could fly off the rails at any moment.
And while all the songs on Abuse sort of sound the same, it’s not so much a lack of creativity but an excellent uniformity. The little idiosyncrasies (the sludgy old-school hardcore grooves of “Lost Swines” and “Overgrown Asshole,” the crossover thrash gang vocals on “Murder,” a cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Rich” that doesn’t remotely resemble the original) only reveal themselves a few spins later, as the band’s main objective is to hammer the fuck out of you for twenty-one minutes then get the fuck out. But even despite half the album’s songs being less than a minute long, Abuse feels longer, not because of boredom but because — like the aforementioned Pig Destroyer — the band have mastered the art of crafting microcosms of hyperviolence in lieu of smatterings of noise and blastbeats. Wormrot would be a great grind band if they were from Akron, Ohio and managed to get their demo into the hands of Earache; they just happened to be on the other end of the world.
(4 out of 5 horns)