I normally don’t take the whole “new year, new me” maxim seriously at all. I mean sure, improvements are a good thing, right? But an entire overhaul of oneself is completely unnecessary. That said, my first review of the year isn’t a one-person black metal project. How novel! In fact, said review involves the words “sludge” and “Louisiana,” two words that’ll make me shove other writers here aside like Patsy Stone gunning for her favorite bottle of vodka. Yep, Slake, the debut album from Louisiana power trio Woorms, broke my combo of icy-cold bedroom blackness once and for all, and you would think that I would be a happy camper here.
Sadly, that’s not fully the case. But first, the strengths. Guitarist Joey Carbo and bassist John Robinson can write some mean riffs, as evidenced on proper opener “Find a Meal, Find a Bed, Find a God,” and the atmospheric “Stiff Upper Lisp,” where the latter finds Carbo’s Kyuss-esque chords reverberating over a tasty drum pattern by Aaron Polk. There are whiffs of Crowbar and Acid Bath in the riff department, which isn’t at all surprising given that Woorms share a geographic commonality with the aforementioned legends. The warm production also works to the band’s benefit, giving everything a nice heft.
What isn’t beneficial, though, is the songwriting. In other words, Woorms suffers from a condition I like to refer to as Myrkuritis, in that the stronger songs end just as they’re starting to go somewhere of note. The big difference here is that Myrkur at least has her powerful voice to fall back on, which is not something that can be said of Carbo’s wildly hit-or-miss delivery. I get that he was aiming for David Yow’s (The Jesus Lizard) chaotic brand of storytelling, but on Slake, it doesn’t hit with the same punch. “Veni Vidi Fucki” consists of just the lyrics “You came… you saw…/You really… fucked it all…” over and over again. “Racist Kevin” begins to lead towards awesome things, but Myrkuritis kicks in before said things happen.
But above everything else, Slake hampers itself with another modern-day trope: the over-reliance on samples. Don’t get me wrong; when utilized sparingly, samples can add a great deal to a song or album. Here, it’s a crutch that ends up crippling the final product considerably, with the second half of “Mouth Is a Wound” and the first half of “Veni Vidi Fucki” being mostly (or in the latter’s case, all) samples. The pointless opener “Corpse Corps” and even more pointless “Our Lady of Perpetually Shitfaced” is 100% Grade D-But-Edible samples. Lastly, the second half of the otherwise decent closer “Sore Afraid,” is another time-honored-and-abused trope, the slowed-down riff, made rote by even more samples. One here and there is fine, but bombarding it à la Guy Fieri flavor explosion does no one any favors1.
And it’s a shame too, as there are glimmers of promise found within Slake‘s run time. But for all the promise showcased, there has to be compelling songs as well, and Slake trips on itself. Maybe with some stronger songwriting and far fewer samples, we could see some amazing things from these guys. As it stands, though, give Slake a pass.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Record Labels: Sludgelord Records (Europe) | Hospital Records (North America)
Websites: woorms.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/woorms
Releases Worldwide: January 18th, 2019