Ringworm – The Venomous Grand Design Review

Originally written by Sasha Horn

Q:  How does one write an extensive and calibrated review of such a “Fuck You” and in your face hardcore release?

A:  One does not.  He or she takes notes in-between kung fu kicks, picking up pennies, windmills, and walls of death.

I won’t get too into the history of this band going on its 17th year.  Yeah, there’s been line-up changes.  Alot of other people connected to alot of other bands whose names I won’t drag into this because I’m trying to focus on the here and now.  I’m sure the current line-up will recognize the focus and dedication I have in giving a quick blunt force traumatic review to reflect the kind of music made on The Venomous Grand Design, especially “Human Furnace”.  That’s the dude with the mic, most of the time, and to his credit, his voice sounds like his breath is hot.  I mean that in the best possible way;  earth scorching vocals.

This feels like the kind of ‘take no prisoners’ hardcore I remember from back in the day.  In ’93 I got hooked on their first full-length The Promise, managed to pretty much forget about them for 14 years for no apparent reason, and then ran across this as of lately.  Funny how I thought they went the way of the buffalo, when in fact, after several seconds in I hear that they have actually gone the way of the goat.  Sounds like somebody went and stuck their Slayer in my Ringworm, and after I backtrack a little into 2005’s Justice Replaced By Revenge, I see this is a fairly new pollution.  That release was plenty more the Cleveland hardcore of old.  This new beast is firmly rooted in a metal heavy crossover.  Heavy on the fretboard stylings by traditional HC standards, and the standard usually means the 12 bar blues of aggressive music. The emphasis being on the message with the electricity acting only as a conduit.  But these 13 slabs are what you get when you cross that train of thought, with a more sailboat and flighty way of thinking, such as frilly baroque neo-classical shredding.  (And for those who are not catching on to my odd rambling, there is nothing blues or neo-classical about Ringworm.  They just sit firmly between those polar opposite ends of the spectrum, in the truly vast spectrum that is inside my head).  The riffs are noodly in a good way, but the guitar solos are Ramen noodly; cheap and very seldom fulfilling.  The album overall is mixed proper and punchy, crisp, yet not crystal.  And despite some line-crossing, Venomous… still has that old time beat down feel to it thanks to swing-fist-fests like “Never Was” and “Preach To No One”, total foot stompers.  A nice contrast to the hair banging episodes like opener “The Cage” and follow up tune “The Ninth Circle”.

So think like Slapshot meets God Forbid, and then think about wearing one combat boot/suspender and one high-top sneaker/pair of tight stone-washed jeans, at the same time, out in public, if you want to truly represent your love for the mighty crossover output that is The Venomous Grand Design.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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