Judging by the name, Oozing Wound should be a run-of-the-mill Death Metal outfit with all of the daft connotations that come with the genre. Thankfully the band is signed to the excellent Thrill Jockey Records, so safe to say this is not the case. What it does demonstrate, however, is a band not afraid to annoy overly serious music journos like me, and artists are supposed to stick it to the man, who in this case would be me. Ahem.
A Chicago trio formed in 2013 the members consist of guitarist/vocalist Zack Weil, bassist Kevin Cribbin, and drummer Kyle Reynolds. According to the promo notes, the band is quite a big deal on the Chicago DIY scene with Cribbin running the legendary performance space Situations and Reynolds the Rotted Tooth Recordings label. We Cater to Cowards is the band’s fifth album and the follow-up to 2019’s High Anxiety. Both the cover art and title nods to similarly dark-humoured mischief-makers such as Karp and The Melvins.
Speaking of Karp, ‘Bank Account Anxiety’ starts the album off in a similar fashion with heavy sludge metal allied to an indie sensibility a la the aforementioned’s track ‘Bacon Industry’. Shades of legendary fellow Chicago outfit Tar are also present with some of the thicker guitar textures and, seeing as that band is so criminally overlooked, I’m always more than happy to give them a “heads up”.
I’m always reticent to mention Nirvana as I’m not the biggest fan but ‘Total Existence Failure’ reminds you of grunge before THAT track broke through; you know, the rearranged version of ‘More Than A Feeling’ (‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’). It taps into the true dark heart and spirit of the scene (Tad, U-Men, Soundgarden) before it became awash with MTV, Marc Jacobs, and filthy lucre. A fantastic number.
‘The Good Times (I Don’t Miss ‘Em)’ evokes classic Nirvana (ironically), the despairing vocal shrieks especially summoning the spirit of the late Kurt Cobain while ‘Hypnic Jerk’ refers to sudden involuntary muscle contractions one may experience while asleep and the stop-start frantic nature of the track is reflective of such actions and is what makes it so eminently thrilling.
‘Crypto Fash’ is a mid-paced sturdy instrumental with some Ministry Filth Pig vibes making for a decent album stopgap and ‘Between Cults’ comes off like an even more aggressive Killdozer with a message that appears overly pessimistic, or to quote Private Fraser from the classic UK sitcom Dad’s Army “We’re all doomed”.
‘Chudly’ immediately brings to mind The Jesus Lizard with the trademark deranged vocals and rumbling bass, or to put it another way, ‘Then Comes Chudly’? ‘Midlife Crisis Actor’ is brilliantly abrasive and provides a snapshot of how awesome noise rock used to sound before it got usurped by the art-school crowd. Meanwhile, ‘Old Sludge’ again seems to adopt the Karp (and Big Business) sound with some insane Jazz skonk thrown in along the way. A breathtaking piece.
‘Face Without Eyes’ is a reference to the unseen character in Ray Bradbury‘s The Whole Town’s Sleeping who has murdered twelve women and whom the residents are justifiably terrified of. Quite a theme then with which to conclude the album and the music itself would have proved ideally suited to the 1992 TV adaptation The Lonely One.
The band’s somewhat unique sense of humour helps elevate even further what is for the most part some pretty damn fine noise-rock grunge-metal and gives Oozing Wound a distinctive edge over their more austere and po-faced contemporaries. An excellent release all around.
Buy the album here:
8 / 10