Turning tides

Record Label: Translation Loss

Release Date: October 20, 2017

While it may seem odd to dub the shift in disposition between Wormwood’s ultra-bleak, willfully abrasive 2014 self-titled debut and Mooncurse a positive one—an album that opens with a track called “Infinite Darkness” probably isn’t going to end up on the next Spotify playlist your life coach curates for you—the latter nevertheless is imbued with a considerably more enlivening, high-spirited vibe than its predecessor. The tracks are still full of apocalyptic riffs and wide-eyed dark prophecies, but nihilistic detachment seems to have been replaced by an eagerness to agitate for the cataclysm, to channel the annihilation, to create the perfect soundtrack for those who are left to watch the last ruins collapse at the end of this world and the beginning of the next.

The evolution of the cover artwork from black-and-white black metal winterscape to the empyrean psychedelia of Brazilian artist Pedro Oliveira’s Mooncurse illustration is actually an appropriate and telling one: Wormwood 2.0—the original duo of guitarist/vocalist Chris Pupecki (ex-Cast Iron Hike/Doomriders) and drummer Chris Bevilacqua (ex-Doomriders/Hellraker) have been joined by bassist Greg Weeks (the Red Chord) and guitarist Mike Gowell (Phantom Glue)—is a much more diverse, expansive beast, buttressing its core blackened doom with strains of post-hardcore, punishing Am-Rep-y grooves, a bit of (light) prog and a considerably sharper production that allows the nuance and interplay to come to the surface. That’s not necessarily the easiest alloy to perfect, but in Wormwood’s seasoned hands it always feels organic, never contrived. If these songs constitute a curse—lunar or otherwise—it’s a damn beguiling one.

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