Wormlight – Nightmother Review

Sometimes, it can be difficult to keep up with all the “worms” in metal. Wormwood, Wormwitch, Wormhole, Wormrot, Wormed, Worm Ouroboros, Palace of Worms, Graveworm and, of course, Worm (to name a few). Clearly, these burrowing invertebrates, for whom we will all be dinner one day, hold a special place in the dark genre’s spiky bosom. Adding to the wormy mix is Sweden’s Wormlight. A black metal band originally named “Unhallowed,” they decided ditch the excess limbs and adopt Wormlight in 2015. Fittingly, Dr. Wvrm reviewed their debut, 2018’s Wrath of the Wilds. While he liked it, he was concerned that they needed a more solid identity and sense of direction. In other words, it was perfectly competent black metal, without anything to really make it pop. Now Wormlight are back with Nightmother, which promises to build on the debut without a radical change in sound. Many of the bands with “worm” in their name have produced some excellent metal albums over the past few years. Have Wormlight followed suit?

Nightmother is a malevolent ode to the “unholy feminine.” The band promises an “opus bereft of the warmth of the womb” and a “sublime and bacchanal celebration of matriarchal sovereignty.” I’m not 100% sure what this all means, but it looks suitably fun and debauched. The sound Wormlight employs is a (relatively) accessible form of melodic black metal, with vocals plucked straight from Behemoth’s Nergal. It’s certainly not original, but Wormlight expand the often-insular black metal template with a generous and melodic aesthetic. Opener “Nightmother” gives the listener a good sense of what’s in store: swirling tremolos, blast beats, some great melodies… but, like duct tape on KY-jelly (don’t ask), nothing really sticks, and I could barely recall the song shortly after it ended. It’s a microcosm for the album as a whole, and it’s what fundamentally holds it back.


Nightmother features nine tracks, spanning 54 minutes, and while most of them are perfectly competent, with a few standouts, very few wrestle your attention away from whatever you’re preoccupied with at the moment. Part of the issue is the lack of progression of the individual tracks. Wormlight find a pattern, and then repeat it with very little development, except for the occasional solo. “Hounds of Apophrades,” “Voidspawn” and “The Whispering Light” all fall into this trap, which means that after an initial opening that sounds interesting, the melody and compositions remain, like certain invertebrate creatures, directionless and immobile. The very expansiveness then ultimately harms the songs, because the base is unsteady and hollow.

There are some exceptions to this, and they occur when Wormlight escape the mold they’ve created for themselves. “Blood, Wine and Spirits” slows the pace, doubles down on the melody and it’s absolutely splendid: the harsh vocals soar above the melodic guitars and the band demonstrates real purpose. “By Empty Cradles” uses its status as the album closer to create an epic sense of finality. Tracks like these show what Wormlight are clearly capable of. The album also gets significantly stronger as it progresses, with a final third featuring much of its best material. Performances across the board are excellent, with Tiamat Invictuz sounding suitably commanding on vocals and King Antichrist’s capering drumming adding dimension to the melodies. The production is fine, but arguably too “clean” for this type of metal, leeching away some of the band’s malevolent power.

Overall, Nightmother is yet another album that falls into the “good but won’t knock your socks off” category of 2021 black metal. The expansive, melodic sound the band is aiming for is only intermittently achieved due to the weakness of some of the compositions. The strong performances from the band members, and a shiny production do their best to disguise a lack of progression. Wvrm gave them a pass on their debut, but it’s sophomore time, and growth is expected. Sadly, despite an impressive theme as their inspiration, Wormlight are only partially successful here. If they want to join the other great “wormy” bands, we’ll need more next time.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Black Lion Records
Websites: wormlightsweblacklion.bandcamp.com/  | facebook.com/wormlightsweden
Releases Worldwide: May 7th, 2021

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