Several of my reviews this year started off with a statement regarding album artwork. This one will be no different. Take a look. See that gloriously necrotic pegasus on the cover? Yeah, I thought it was a unicorn at first. Imagine the ecstasy I felt for the opportunity to display this magnificent creature, the first in any of my reviews since January 4th, without having to sacrifice the inclusion of a band photo. By now, I’m sure you perceive the “nasty bait-and-switch”1 that resides within these watercolored caverns—that horn you think you see is just the pegasus’ left wing. God. Damn. It. I’ve been heckin’ bamboozled, and the frustration I feel in response to such bamboozling translates directly into my experience with Book of Wyrms‘ sophomore effort Remythologizer.
Fuzz and fantasy are the Virginian quartet’s main exports from Remythologizer. You can expect groovy riffs explored at a leisurely pace, trippy synths twinkling and swooshing throughout a pastel wonderland of mythic necropolises. Frontwoman Sarah Moore-Lindsey plants a darkly serene character into these dead gardens, with a touch of whiskey flavoring her laid back approach. Chris DeHaven applies a measured approach to his kit performance, which works in the band’s favor by allowing room for dynamic flourishes and unexpected patterns (especially on “Undead Pegasus”). Guitarist Kyle Lewis knows his way around a riff as well, especially in the opening duo where his application of simple, but effective, riffing makes for easily retained entertainment. Lastly, Book of Wyrms round out their sound with a heaping helping of fuzzed out low-end courtesy of bassist Jay Lindsey, who even gets some time in the spotlight to show off his chops. In short, this is a perfect formula with which to revitalize a fallowed stoner metal field.
Unfortunately, Remythologizer is less than the sum of its parts. Part of that is due to a lack of quality content. At thirty-seven minutes across six tracks, Remythologizer is already trim. However, tracks three through five constitute a major dip in quality/energy. First off, “Undead Pegasus” suffers greatly from its structure, initially galloping away from my good graces with an awkward clomp before suddenly dropping to a doomy pace in the chorus. I like the story of it, though, being just silly enough to be endearing while also maintaining a subversive darkness. Following that comes an uninspired stoner metal track in “Spirit Drifter,” which is not energetic enough to make an impression after the oddity that preceded it. Lastly, “Curse of the Werecop” is just wasteful. An instrumental consuming but eighty-five seconds of my day, it was infuriating to come across each time I spun Remythologizer, as it does nothing to further the story.
That leaves “Autumnal Snow,” “Blacklight Warpriest,” and “Dust Toad” to save Remythologizer from total dud status. Lucky day, that’s exactly what they do. “Autumnal Snow” is a particularly strong opener, chock full of slow-going hooks and cool vocals. “Blacklight Warpriest” succeeds as well thanks to its relaxed delivery and enjoyable ebb and flow between psychedelic atmosphere and crunchy riffing, though it’s bloated. Closing the record on an interesting note is “Dust Toad,” which manages to be just as weird as “Undead Pegasus” in concept but is more cohesive in execution. The production is largely beneficial to the album. Fuzzy, but not so much so that you can’t make out riffs or bass lines. Vocals take a back seat, sometimes too far back, but always exude a clarity that enhances the lyrics’ decipherability.
I was dearly hopeful that Book of Wyrms would mark the end of my disappointing streak of records this August. Alas, it looks like I’m going to have to wait a little longer for that relief. Remythologizer certainly serves as proof of concept that should fuel future releases, but the songwriting lets this one down. Give tracks that feature fun ideas and unexpected musical direction greater structural unity, do away with superfluous instrumentals (or at least give them a good reason to exist in the plot), and maybe next time I’ll have a hard time putting this Book of Wyrms down.
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Labels: Twin Earth Records | Stoner Witch Records
Websites: bookofwyrms.bandcamp.com | www.facebook.com/Bookofwyrms
Releases Worldwide: August 23rd, 2019