Metal is all about excess. Be as fast as possible. Be as slow as possible. Or, in Nekrofilth‘s case, be as nasty as possible. Just take the lyrics of “Junkie Cunt,” from the band’s 2013 debut Devil’s Breath: “I want to squeeze your rotten tits/Your curdled cunt gets my cock so fucking hard!” Unless you’re trying to get rid of your in-laws, these aren’t the type of people you’d invite to your Christmas party. It’s no surprise that such foulness stems from Cleveland, Ohio, the place a recent Uber driver of mine referred to as “the mistake by the lake.” Yet apparently even the nastiest among us have a yearning for greener pastures, as the band relocated to Denver several years back, replacing their drummer and bassist with two Weaponizer members in the process. With vocalist and guitarist Zach Rose (ex-Nunslaughter, ex-Crucified Mortals) the only founding member left, what changes can we expect from these purveyors of filth?
Stylistically, pretty much none. Just like the sound they peddled on Breath (not to mention the metric assload of splits they’ve released since their 2008 formation), sophomore album Worm Ritual shows the band once again swirling together a putrid concoction of death, thrash, and old school punk. Imagine a punkified version of Venom, or perhaps Nunslaughter infused with the snottiness of GG Allin, and you have some idea of the aural puss you can expect to ooze from your speakers. Riffs are blaring and simple, songs are brief and typically juggle only a few ideas, and vocals consist of a maniacal rasp that contains just a hint of attitude. If “grunge” weren’t already the name of a genre, Nekrofilth could very well have laid claim to that tag.
The problem with music this simple is that so much rides on the quality of its riffs. Sadly, all too often these 15 tracks feel bloated with generic ideas that don’t go anywhere. I once heard “bad things come in threes;” on Worm Ritual, they seem to come in twos. “Dead Brain” and “Severed Eyes” are grindcore-length songs that contain two riffs each, leaving them feeling throwaway and unfinished. “Night of the Leech” and “Gutter Oil” attempt to mix things up by slowing down the tempo, but their sluggish progressions simply amble along without a destination. “Cruel Addiction” and “Feast of the Rats” initially seem promising with their charging headstrong riffs, until you realize those riffs sound exactly like something The Casualties or any other punk band have already been playing for the better part of three decades.
For a band whose schtick is all about being as disagreeable as possible, it’s actually pretty amusing that their music is this generic. There are better moments, sure, but even those are decent at best. “Rot with the Dead” and opener “Ready to Defile” are somewhat fun with their snappy tempos, basic yet wild riffs, and prominent shouts of the track title. “Worm Ritual” contains an extended “invocation of worms” intro, followed by some stormy death metal riffing that’s more interesting than almost everything else here. Likewise, the ragged guitar tone is a good fit, while the occasional solos work well in the way they flail around like a belligerent drunkard.
Ultimately, it’s hard to endorse Worm Ritual. As the early works of Bathory and Venom showed, there’s nothing inherently wrong with simple music. The problem is when it lacks inspiration. It’s telling that Nekrofilth‘s cover of Venom‘s “Poison” is the best track here, as often I’d hear those riffs and think to myself “hey, this album isn’t so bad!” until I remembered I was listening to a cover. While I appreciate the band’s snotty energy, the songs are bereft of interesting ideas and the riffs are tired as hell. With five years since their last album, you’d think they’d be able to come up with something better. Instead Ritual is as rotten as that heap of whatever-the-fuck is on the cover, and despite the band’s aesthetic, that isn’t a good thing.
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hells Headbangers Records
Websites: nekrofilth.bandcamp.com | nekrofilth.com | facebook.com/nekrofilth
Releases Worldwide: December 28th, 2018