Originally written by Jordan Campbell
Death metal….IN SPAAAAAAAAAAACE!
Yes, it’s been something of an oddball infatuation over the past few years, but it makes sense. Death metal is nerd music for nerd people, and not all nerds get down on the horror-hound misogyny that plagues the scene. Some of us read books. And get laid.
Thus, we took notice when Origin went all Unicron on our asses and devoured everything in its path. We grinned with delight when Mithras pounded us into dust and cannon-sprinkled our atoms across the cosmos. We bought into the stellar guitar hero acrobatics of Decrepit Birth as they got the touch…they got the power.
(Okay, that “read books” line up there was a lie. Replace that with “have Transformers: The Movie on a perpetual loop.” And strike the statement that followed, too.)
There’s more to this fascination than mere sci-fi fantasy. Death metal was born from a fixation on mortality. However, there are only so many ways to destroy a corpse, to wield plagues, to wax apocalyptic. Earth is limiting, and the depravity of humanity is well-documented.
However, there’s still one unexplored subject that holds the potential to truly punctuate the futility and crushing hopelessness of human life: the vastness of outer space. While the aforementioned bands took us on exhilarating journeys into the unknown, no one has yet managed to capture the sound of being ripped the fuck apart by physical forces that lie beyond the realm of human understanding.
After a ten-year hiatus, these Spanish labrats have returned to blast death metal into a new dimension, a feat that one might’ve thought impossible after hearing their perplexingly-culted debut. Planisphærium was a tuneless exploratation of mindless, song-free, low-end fuckery. Put succinctly, it sucked.
Traditionally speaking, ten-year layoffs aren’t a good thing, especially coming off an awful record. Bands aren’t typically honing their skills when they take extended breaks, they’re trying to sort their fucking lives out. Wormed might be the exception. Since Planisphærium, the band has seemingly been schooled in the mythical arts of subtlety and self-editing. Exodromos is one of the most concise, diverse brutal DM releases since Desecravity‘s Implicit Obedience.
Wormed has evolved into tricksters of the highest order. At first blush, each track would like you to think that it’s a face-value, high-octane broodlefest. But there’s always a twist.
On “Tautochrone,” what starts off as rote devastation quickly morphs into something else: gut-wrenching sadness. It’s the sound of our own futilty, faced with the mind-fuckery of the unknown. Our weak frames tremble before the blackness of space. Wormed is peeling our eyelids, forcing us reflect on our worthlessness only to ultimately cast us into nothingness. We’re gutted before we’re spaghettified.
They use an internal polarity to acheive this. The tension between the off-kilter melodies and the subhuman, collapsing vocal delivery is an accidental stroke of brilliance. As the guitars attempt to flee to blissful safety on “Stellar Depopulation,” the vocals scrape them back with torturous gravity. It’s a weird blend, but it works, not the least because Wormed keeps nine-tenths of these tracks under the 3:30 mark. Each track is self-contained, each juxtaposition bound tightly within its own capsule.
That self-awareness is the crux of Exodromos‘ success, the glue that makes it seventy times the record that Planisphærium was. Their debut record was necessary, of course, allowing the band to vomit all of their quirks onto a single platter. Ten years later, Wormed presents the work of a wiser, finer, yet no less ambitious band. Exodromos is not only the most uniquely horrifying death metal album of the year, but it could possibly be the finest.