Wvrm – Colony Collapse Review

First, a call to our indefatigable, pedantic readership: Wvrm proclaim to be “South Carolina’s only grind band.” Such self-aggrandizement simply demands some spotty, metal nerd to raise their forefinger; “actually, there’s a long history of grind in the Carolinas, dating back to the colonial era….” Second, a summary: Wvrm hail from Greenville, South Carolina (fairly local to our own TheKenWord, and also home to Nile) and have been hawking their grind-based wares since 2013 across 4 EPs, 3 splits and 2 full-length albums. 2020 sees their return with their third full-length, entitled Colony Collapse, and with it vitriol and nastiness.

Colony Collapse is grindcore. No element here will be particularly shocking to those already familiar with the genre. It’s urgent, abrasive and aggressive. But what it does particularly well is walk that fine line between sounding mental and chaotic on first listen, but setting yourself down and absorbing yourself yields proper rhythmic and melodic control. There’s admirable technicality and musicality behind the maelstrom which is the ideal approach. It would be hard to describe as accessible but there is a compelling edge with which I engage. An additional musical point is that the characteristic grinding guitar tone of the genre is utilized heavily, not just in the standard riffs but as a tonal layer through intense feedback. Whining feedback acts as the bridge between all tracks and a background layer behind the leads and manic drumming.

Wvrm also effectively use temporal variation. In particular, the breakdowns are universally great, leaning on groovy leads to get your head bouncing and blood pumping. Exemplar moments include those on: “Walled Slum City,” “Anti-Democracy / Locust Breath” and “Thorn Palace.” Furthermore, while there’s very little pretense on the record (it is grindcore, after all), the title track makes for a cool ‘interlude.’ It surprised me as I often find myself criticizing unnecessary interludes but this offers a welcome slower pause before the record’s heavy-as-fuck conclusion on “Angel of Assassination.” It features piercing feedback, kinetic electronic effects, tribal drumming and panicked rasps and therefore completely fits Colony Collapse’s chaotic atmosphere and the feel that the band is unhinged. I’ve no doubt that these guys would be great fun live.

While Colony Collapse has a lot going for it, it’s one of those records which assuredly has downsides but they’re hard to define. The point I want to reach is that listening through the record from front to back revels dampened impact from “Years of Lead” until “Furious Movement / The Burning Tower” (which only actually comprises 4 and a half minutes but this forms about a sixth of the record). This run lacks the standout riffs and passages which many other tracks possess. But while these tracks aren’t great in themselves, I think they demonstrate that taking it as a whole, I don’t love Colony Collapse. There’s quality, but not greatness, throughout, as I experience a degree of fatigue by this run towards the end of the album.

Colony Collapse is an easy recommendation for those with a particular proclivity for grind but probably doesn’t push through the quality barrier to the point of transcending its genre into a general recommendation. Nonetheless, it’s a worthwhile, cathartic blast and should make for excellent workout fodder while you’re home-bound in these unprecedented times. Phew. And I made it through the entire review without reference to Dr. Wvrm.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: facebook.com/wvrm | wvrm.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: April 3rd, 2020

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