‘Twas a mere fifteen months ago that Baton Rouge, Louisiana trio Woorms released debut album Slake (Sludgelord Records), its grooves twisted into nasty bites of hostile Sludge Metal. Follow-up Twitching, As Prey (Sludgelord Records), stays hot on the heels of that initial full-length, both chronologically and in temperament, but shows a maturity and an inventiveness far beyond its predecessor.
Confirming this from the off is opener ‘Take His Fucking Leg’, Aaron Polk‘s mammoth beat carrying a growling riff underneath snarling, Southern-flavoured vocals. Despite the relatively slow nature the track carries a hell of a groove, helped by the predominance in the mix of John Robinson‘s bass. This continues into the sinister, ‘grits and human offal’ sound of ‘Escape Goat’, its increasingly hysterical roars decorating a ponderous, swelling, tubthumping mass.
There’s definitely something of The Melvins in the music Woorms create. Despite the cocoon of a warm production, the gravelly malevolence and hulking weight reigns supreme, yet it’s given an unorthodox rhythmic skip in the Grungey ‘Unicorn Corn’. Eerie lead twangs are brief but effective, enhancing the fear factor of short interlude ‘Fire is a Good Servant’. The might of Polk’s drums, however, is a joy to behold, never more than as the fuselage of the huge ‘Silence and the Saints’, slowly mashing the mind as that hideous scream spews its venom over Joey Carbo‘s chilling leadplay and effects.
The added attraction of …Prey is the increasing creativity, its willingness to incorporate other elements within the core sound. The organ effects and stuttered, echoing delivery of the lyrically frightening ‘Beauty is a Trick of Light and Sorrow’ give the song another dimension, setting the scene for a crushing, swinging second movement. This ability to switch pace without lightening the load is also shown in the occasionally rapid yet bruising ‘Line’: while skin-crawling feedback governs the early stages of ‘Fire is a Bad Master’, bass and drums conspiring to give a Dub feel to a heavily sampled track that’s a real but healthy departure from the rest of the album.
The penultimate ‘Because They Looked Like Crosses’ returns to that brooding savagery: the real wonder being how something this horrid, with such ferociously-delivered words, can possess such a wicked groove. Even this terrifying experience includes the odd inflection, while gorgeous closer ‘God Botherer’ is a haunting beauty from the bayou: twanging, Countryfied yet melancholy strings steadily building with weird abandon to its denouement of harmonic incantation. If Woorms are to be described as ‘sludge’ then it’s too narrow a definition for this versatile, affecting and somewhat surprising sophomore effort: it’s a more refined display, the irresistible coming of a dark and disease-ridden age.
7 / 10