It is brutal, rather technical and it has its roots in death metal. But is Exodromos a pure brutal technical death metal album? A lazy, complacent answer would be: yes. A more elaborate response – and one you would expect to read on these respected pages – is: not quite. The reason behind this (after all, aren’t these Spaniards the ones who spawned the beautifully crafted Planisphærium a few years back?) is that this record has its most amazing moments when it ventures in the unknown and outside the bastions of the genre. It is a bit like saying that Benny Hill’s gags were silent: if the lack of spoken language is what makes you define them, then you simply haven’t been able to see beyond the absence. The presence is what matters.
Wormed are back with an album that treats us to yet another lesson in what is violent and appealing. The price to pay is obviously a certain reiterate devotion to the stereotypes of a genre which, in its most basic form, has already expressed whatever it could manage to communicate with bands like Cryptopsy, Suffocation and, well, Wormed, to name but just a few. If the album title Exodromos (“the outward path from a Greek tomb” if my high school memories serve me right) is an elegant – albeit rather brief – cornerstone in metal composition. The lens through which Wormed see their inspiration is, quite obviously, brutality. But the way they toy with the result bears the signs of a more sophisticated taste. The repetitions on “Xenoverse Discharger”, for instance, deflect the brutishness of the overarching mood of the album in favour of a trance-like ambience, while the spoken vocals on “Darkflow Quadrivium” are perfectly complementary to the slow-paced, intense guitar work.
Tracks like “Tautochrone” and “Spacetime Ekleipsis Vorticity” are probably the finest examples of technical death metal on the album but, once again, if one listens close enough, the synthesis between chaos and composition reveals itself in the intricate patterns the band follows to carry what people expect them to deliver: brutality. No matter how far the band takes its music it always remains relatively close to the clear dynamics of the less excited moments (“Stellar Depopulation”, for instance) thanks to a superb work in the recording and production studios that keeps the music constantly discernible.
The sci-fi themed and aptly titled Exodromos is an album whose very essence is closer to Voivod (just slow down “Techkinox Wormhole” and you will know what I mean) than it is to grindcore or a band like Nile, to name just a couple of names whose musical principles neighbor the apparent savageness of such a noble genre.
As far as technical death metal is concerned, I seriously doubt there will be anything better than this in 2013. The downside of it all is that there is only so much you can stretch the boundaries of the genre until it loses credibility and the overall impression is that, at this stage, technical death metal is still a hindrance rather than a platform from which Wormed can explore new horizons. Therefore, Exodromos is a step beyond the type of music people expect the band to limit itself to, but at the same time it retains the aesthetics and the formulas of the genre. And that, although is great for the fans of this particular niche, is itself a limitation. A magnificent and exciting limitation.