The bird snared in a net. The snake with a wound in its side. The fawn with a broken leg. Glassy-eyed and propelled only by adrenaline, they will lash out; they will peck, claw, kick, and bite, not for malice, but as a reflex. The body, independent of thought, will jerk and writhe and mangle itself further. We all have a desperate subconscious violence we hope will never surface, a basic, universal response no different than the flailing of an impaled insect.

It’s that anxious, pained desperation that makes Even a Worm Will Turn scratch at some deep limbic surface in the brain. Calling back to screamo legends like Orchid while reaching into modern blackened hardcore, Senza’s atramentous music is impressive enough when the trio pound drums and scrape strings in synchronized ferocity. But their combined vocal efforts push Even a Worm Will Turn so much further. Screamo howls and pleading cries materialize a bottomless anxiety and crushing alienation that exists independent of any lyric sheet. The un-miced vocals feel both disembodied and unpleasantly visceral – these are fear and anxiety distilled and dripping in fits and spurts over a jagged and unforgiving surface.

The band’s vocals provide emotional valence to an album that’s almost inhumanly well-paced and tightly written. Senza completely eschew traditional song structures, instead relying on short, seething tracks that lash out unpredictably. “Born of Dirt” opens with unassuming strumming before diving into distorted chords, trem-picking and choppy blast beats only to turn around with an arpeggiated lead. Then it slips again into chaos. The album exists in these cycles of flight and stasis, alternating between ragged movement and ragged breathing, always fleeing, never recovering, covering itself further in scratches, blood, and dirt. That rhythm is never more successful than in “Imposter.” The song opens and closes with the trio’s shrieking but is propelled within by a showstopping drum performance and anxious, bursting guitar work.

In their short songs, Senza operate with such fluidity and purpose that the success of the nine-minute “Echoes” comes as almost a surprise. But even in a song nearly thrice as long as any of the album’s other tracks, the band’s ability to keep their compositions in near-constant tension holds. Mixing post metal with the band’s usual screamo and mathcore, “Echoes” stands above the rest of the songs in scope and ambition while embodying the aesthetics of the album. With its Jane Doe-like ending, the band finally find something like relief. In an overwhelmingly bleak and frenzied album that clings to life with such desperation, the ending is no challenge to interpret.

Everything that Even a Worm Will Turn appears to be – violent, abrasive, unpredictable – it is. But unlike most violent, abrasive, and unpredictable metal albums, there is nothing malevolent or powerful about this record. It’s an expression not of power or sorrow but of fragility and fright. It passes in a wretched buzz of adrenaline, hyper-focused on its escape by any means in any direction it turns toward. It is pitiful and violent and pitiful all over again. Its songs stand alone as expanded moments of fear that all flow together into a frantic and fearful existence.

Tracks to Check Out: “Born of Dirt,” “Imposter,” “Sentience,” “Echoes”