Coffinworm Offer Up All the Beauty and Sentimentality of Irritable Bowel Syndrome on IV.I.VIII

  • Sammy O'Hagar

Even doom’s heaviest metallers succumb to the temptation of public self-love. haarp’s debut was a vitriolic trudge through curdled doom sewage, taking things at a perversely slow but decidedly mean pace, (remarkably so, even for doom). But their followup—Husks—was 3 songs in 35 minutes, turning a menacing crawl into an unlistenable hobble. In doom, there’s a fine line between premeditative slowness and mean navelgazing (and not the kind I usually like). Coffinworm know this, and their deliberate pace never drags. Instead, IV.I.VIII, their latest, is a meaty, putrid feast of sludgy heaviness. Their focus is impressive, especially considering the fact that “blackened” is affixed to their genre of choice. IV.I.VIII is mean and scary as hell, but it never fails to make its point. In just under 40 minutes, the band perform an autopsy on you while you’re still alive and conscious, showing you your organs as they weight them. Not for the faint of heart, but fuck the faint of heart. Coffinworm aren’t for people who like it loud, but for people who have some shit to work through.

The band’s death and black metal elements are so well-woven into their sludge/doom modus operandi that you have to go back and consciously search for the tremolo picking and blasts. The focus here is on the Coffinworm’s slow pan across a body-strewn wasteland, and it all sticks with you. The melodically-dijointed riff that anchors the opening of “Black Tears” could have been repulsive for repulsiveness’ sake, but Coffinworm spin it in a way that makes it incredibly digestible. By the time it dissolves into a doomy creep, you don’t find yourself waiting for the tangible part to kick in; everything complements eachother in the best (and simultaneously worst) way possible. The chords that open “Lust vs. Vengeance” approach something anthemic, but then the rest of the band kicks in and pulls it back down to the Earth by the scruff of its neck. IV.I.VIII doesn’t offer post-rock silver lining, but it never gets old. If anything, it gets even more engrossing.

That’s the thing about IV.I.VIII: normally with doom like this, I indicate that this is music for a specific mood (hell, I did as much with haarp). But Coffinworm are remarkably accessible for music this horrid and dissonant. Nothing’s catchy, per se, but the lumbering noise never wears out its welcome. Like David Cronenberg’s The Fly, it’s a look into a disgusting world with a sliver more mind paid to people who aren’t perpetually seeking out the worst. IV.I.VIII is almost impossibly vile, but you’ll want more. You may come out on the other side a little ashamed of finding joy in something so dreadful, but you’ll also find yourself going back whenever possible.

Coffinworm’s IV.I.VIII comes out March 18 on Profound Lore. You can stream the entire album here and pre-order it here.

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