Diminished twin lead guitars fade in above a filthy, distorted bass line. It segues into the intro of the title track, and Death Becomes My Voice (Relapse Records) begins in ill-conceived circumstances. This intro segment is a slow crawl through power chords and crashing cymbals, and completely unrepresentative of the album as a whole. When the main bulk of the title track begins it’s clear that the slow introduction was a calm before a storm, but perhaps an unnecessary breather to kick things off. It may have worked better somewhere in the middle of this unrelenting album as something of a palate cleanser, but more on that later.
The song itself is a high-speed amalgamation of the best parts of the Big 4’s contributions to Thrash and the chaotic ferocity of Hardcore, with an atonal guitar harmony bringing an air of South of Heaven (Def Jam) era Slayer, all while The Human Furnace gives you both auditory barrels with his muscular shouting. His vocal delivery is reminiscent of Dimitri Minakakis – the vocalist on The Dillinger Escape Plan’s masterpiece, Calculating Infinity (Relapse Records/Hydra Head) – in its unrestrained bark and robust force, never faltering throughout the album’s run time.
The second track, ‘Carnivores’, opens with a straight d-beat blast confirming that this is indeed Crossover Metal in a contemporary framework, following in the footsteps of their forefathers’ Integrity or Earth Crisis. But rather than appealing solely to fans of, say, Suicidal Tendencies’ brand of Crossover Thrash, Ringworm reach out to fans who would otherwise staunchly remain opposed to Metal crossing with Hardcore or vice versa. There’s the good time playing of Lamb of God; the swinging percussion flying straight into a 4/4 stomp throughout the album – especially on ‘Dying By Design’ – is more than proof enough of this, while there are plenty of Slayerisms thrown in in the latter half. Squealing, shrieking and generally evil sounding guitars collide to make the Metal portion of Ringworm’s amalgamative sound as heavy as it can be.
The instrumentation is at its most interesting when the two guitars separate into distinct lines of notation; during ‘Dead To Me’, one guitar carries the song with palm muted triplets while the other plays soaring power chords beneath. It’s the most dynamic the album gets and is certainly a highlight. The lack of dynamism bar this song does make for a somewhat exhausting listen; a slow transitional motif – such as the intro – inserted into the middle of this wild ride would work wonders to distinguish the intricacies of this brutal and uncompromising mass. However, what we do get is a wonderfully accomplished, musically dextrous and expertly performed album filled with moments of fist-swinging glee. Not a million miles from brilliance, the album is certainly a must listen for fans of all things heavy and justifiably angry.
7 / 10