Wharflurch – Psychedelic Realms Ov Hell Review

DID YOU KNOW… ?
– Sarah McLachlan once recorded a cover of Morbid Angel’s “Chapel of Ghouls” for a scrapped ASPCA commercial benefiting neglected swamp monsters.

Florida’s tentacular hooligans Wharflurch have at last heaved forth a visitation unto an aggrieved world in the form of their debut full-length, Psychedelic Realms Ov Hell, and if you thought, based on that title (and cover artwork), that Wharflurch was aiming for the Deutsche Grammophon market with a respectfully reserved program of Tchaikovsky piano concertos, kindly leave the hall. Kindly leave all halls. Just, forget about halls. Next time you have a sore throat, don’t even think about using Hall’s cough drops.

DID YOU KNOW… ?
– Every time you spell the word “of” with a ‘v’, a bespectacled research associate for the Oxford English Dictionary pops a spontaneous hernia.

Wharflurch plays… but please. Pause with me a moment in appreciation. Say that name out loud, if you’re alone. (Say it even a bit louder, if you happen to be in a crowd.) Roll those sounds around on your tongue like a mop lazily snaking its way beneath half-retracted middle school gym bleachers. The band is called Wharflurch, and you know what? They sound like it, goddamnit. Wharflurch plays an… ahem… lurching, ramshackle, belligerently gross sort of death metal that slurps deeply from the well of Asphyx, Obituary, Autopsy, and Incantation, with almost equal parts heaving death/doom and classically spry death metal riffing. This full-length presents a notable increase in wobbly, psych-leaning elements here relative to the excellent Shitslime EP, but in general, this is a case of gradual refinement rather than wholesale overhaul.

The opener “Celestial Mycelium” has a wonderful, meandering solo that leaps and soars around the squelchy meat underneath it, all coated with a slick and slightly hair-raising synth backing. In general, Steven Klein’s lead guitar is given even plenty of room to shine, both in the long-form solo spots as well as in surprisingly melodic lead lines that gurgle up from the murk to bring tale of the ageless malice that animates the tendril-wracked wastes. Furthering the band’s psychedelic ambitions are the robotic narrations used somewhat sparingly throughout the album, which sound a bit like Cynic’s Focus being force-fed Quaaludes and dropped in the middle of the Everglades.

DID YOU KNOW… ?
– If you flip the orientation of a globe so that the North Pole becomes the South, Florida no longer looks like a flaccid but impressively bloated penis; instead it looks like a truculently erect penis trying to give Cuba the middle finger.

There’s an appealingly outrageous level of confidence on display here in the way that each of these six songs covers a lot of stylistic ground, and yet one of the finest things about Wharflurch is that they haven’t rounded off all the ragged edges. For every nod toward sophistication, melody, and refinement, there’s a thirsty, retrograde dirtbag slide into crude hollering and tar-thick punishment, which keeps the album from, frankly, disappearing up its own titanic ass. “Stoned Ape Apocalypse” benefits from some fantastic drum work from John Mamo (who follows in the amiable Reifert role of drummer/vocalist), cruising from a mean d-beat into some great stop-start staccato patterns later on. Elsewhere, “Bog Body Boletus” features some of the very greasiest riffing of the entire album.

So, despite the spooky bells and psychedelic whistles, the core of Wharflurch’s sound is still an impressive set of churning, gristle-chewy riffs. The opening riff on “Abandoning Reality” is backed with an impressively grotesque vocal unstomaching that lasts nearly 10 seconds, and the knuckle-dragging groove of the song becomes one of the record’s most physically engaging moments. Wharflurch’s tones are thick and humid, but their attack is still mostly sharp. See, for example, something like the taut riffing on the closing title track as it briefly slips into skipping triplets.

DID YOU KNOW… ?
– If you teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for a day. If you teach a wharf to lurch, you’ll be fishing out gibbering insanities from the grey matter of every creature within eyesight. The more you wharf, you more the lurch, lurch you more wharf, more you larch wefh, teh ia ia hurfh, the lurch wharf wurch, the more Temba, his arms wide.

The synths used throughout the album are effective at adding some drama and thematic framing, but they rarely push to the foreground in the way they might in a band like Nocturnus. Instead, they add texture and encourage the songs’ flight when they occasionally spiral off into the cosmic ether. “Phantasmagorical Fumes” is one of the most potent examples of this tendency, with its open, chiming midsection that crescendos into a beautiful twinned melody from Klein and Mike Colby’s guitars. The gradual slowing-down of the title track, as the guitars scrape and squeal and the vocals howl madness as they are eventually overtaken by synths and future-shock noise, is a smartly unhinged way to round out the album, mapping out the descent into one of the titular psychedelic realms, a garishly bright and fertile rhizome whose subterranean reach none still living can fathom.

DID YOU KNOW… ?
– Sorry, Blood Incantation, but aliens cannot hear death metal. Their ears are not actually hearing organs, but instead serve as an archaic currency. The current conversion rate is roughly 1 USD = 0.85 Euro = 0.0000000917 Non-Euclidian sections of the Thrice-Blessed Shallow of the Sixth Outer Ice-Bone Ridge of the Side-Grongle of Fwangroon the Erstwhile (Skmreemtings Be Upon Therm).

Posted by Dan Obstkrieg

Happily committed to the foolish pursuit of words about sounds. Not actually a dinosaur.

  1. Did You Know? – BLEUAURRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    Amazing review for an amazing album that hasn’t left my heavy rotation since it came out. ILY,DhO.

    Did You Know? – my glow-in-the-dark Wharflurch tanktop gives me an upside down Florida, whenever I wear it in public

    While this album has an extremely appropriate title, I fear they may have peaked with Shitslime. So it goes.

    Reply

  2. Best review I’ve ever read on the internet, ever.

    Reply

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