Book of Wyrms – Occult New Age Review

As an individual who invests a lot of time and effort into fitness, I can impart three nuggets of wisdom. Firstly, results are not immediate. Depending on a bunch of variables like type of exercise and diet, results vary wildly and no two people will necessarily get the same kind of results from identical routines, and in all cases results take more time than most people expect. Secondly, form is key. You must make sure you are performing the movements properly before performing them intensely, otherwise you gain nothing. Thirdly, and most relevant to this review, consistent and measured progression of your routines over time is the best and most sustainable route to your goals, whatever they may be. Book of Wyrms‘ third full-length album, Occult New Age, is an ideal demonstration of why consistent improvements over time work—and why you should absolutely pay attention to this band as they continue to hone their craft.

In my review for sophomore effort Remythologizer, I criticized the band’s use of fluffy instrumentals, the lack of structure in their songwriting, and their propensity to abandon their best ideas before they had a chance to bloom. Most of those detractors are absent from Occult New Age, and it makes a world of difference. Every song here is tight and comes with a sense of purpose, even the one instrumental “Albrionlilly.” Book of Wyrms uses hooks with finesse, sneaking around the folds of my brain until they find the perfect perch upon which to permanently reside. In a lot of ways, this record is more laid back than Remythologizer, so there aren’t as many groovy riffs and high energy sections are less abundant. But to the band’s credit, the album flows like water in a creek. It’s peaceful, but not stagnant.

“Hollergoblin” is a fine example of everything Book of Wyrms does right on Occult New Age. Starting off with an incredibly hooky bass line, minimally accompanied by warm percussion and fuzz, the song doomifies itself for a spell before launching into a cruise-worthy swagger just when the song starts to feel like it’s running out of steam. Follow-up “Keinehora” swings right into doom ensconced by desert, using its dune-crawling licks to keep your interest from wandering too far astray. Closer “Dracula Practice” functions well as an exercise is minimalism, using single-chord riffs to add impact to a delightful bass noodle in the foreground, showing that the band understands the importance of every instrument when all are so clearly audible. “Weatherworker” is perhaps the grooviest entry, but it’s still low-key enough to function as a pleasant backdrop to an evening of chill with your buds on the weekend. In essence, Occult New Age as a whole seems purpose-built for relaxation, yet Book of Wyrms managed to balance that out with solid songwriting and tight musicianship such that the album is a joy to listen to both in the background and during focused sessions.

In spite of the things that make Occult New Age better than its predecessor, some glaring issues remain. First on the list is the way the vocals are mixed. To say that they reside too far back would be an understatement, as there are points during the album where I can barely hear them over the other instruments. The additional layers of reverb only exacerbate the issue, but I don’t think that necessarily requires tweaking, as it’s just a symptom of the larger flaw. The guitar tone is also rather thin, which contrasts unpleasantly with the meaty bass tone that needs to stay exactly the same in all future releases. Otherwise, my main issue with Occult New Age is that there’s very little to hold on to once I put it down. A hook here, a riff there, a nice piece of verse work elsewhere, but that’s pretty much it. The album is a mood piece, meaning that I like to hear it in very specific circumstances, but aside from that I don’t experience a pull to return. It lacks heart and soul entirely—save for the instrumental “Albrionlilly,” funnily enough, which grabs at my heartstrings as if I left my ribcage fully open by accident somehow—which makes a deeper appreciation for the material impossible to achieve.

Book of Wyrms have taken strides to improve and develop their sound one step at a time. There is no sense in trying to force results by pushing themselves so hard they lose sight of the way progress works, so I appreciate Occult New Age for what it is. It’s a statement that this band sees a path to greatness, and their attention to album flow, structure, and form here exemplifies their dedication to continuous improvement. As far as I’m concerned, it’s only a matter of time before Book of Wyrms deliver a great record. Keep it up!

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Desert Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 7th, 2021

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