Every once in a while, I will find a band that did not really do it for me live (perhaps it is just the bill) but then really nail it on the next album that gets released. Ringworm is one of those bands and Snake Church (Relapse Records) is one of those albums. The Cleveland, Ohio crossover/hardcore group put together a fun album that equally plays to the ears of hardcore and thrash metal fans. With twelve tracks at a little over a half hour long, I felt content given most of the songs are just a couple of minutes long as usually seen with thrash/crossover albums.
It was challenging to pick out some favorite tracks since I am both a fan of the fast, upbeat thrash feel, but also enjoy a nice slam now and then. The opening/title track, ‘Snake Church’, does a great job of setting the stage for the rest of the album. It is also one of the longer songs on the record at just over three and half minutes long. Back and forth from thrash to groove the song goes until the sudden end of the track. ‘Fear the Silence’ feels like your typical Ringworm song with an upbeat feel until a crushing groovy breakdown to close out the song. The longest track on Snake Church, and arguable the best track, is right in the middle of the track listing, ‘Shades of Blue.’ This song is all about being slow, heavy, and angry. At four and a half minutes long, this one feels more like six minutes with the tempo but does a great job of taking a thrash break and cutting the album in half. The second half of the album also has some memorable leads that do not go over the top yet fit the song perfectly.
While I had low expectations for this album given my small exposure to Ringworm and not having the best first impression live, Snake Church does a great job of changing my opinion. I may not be in love with James Bulloch’s vocals quite yet, I cannot think of any other vocalist that could fit this band and still put together a solid album. While nothing about this record really breaks any molds for crossover/hardcore albums, it is certainly one that I can vouch for and look forward to hearing live with a new approach to Ringworm.
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