Sunday, January 19, 2014

Album Review: Worms in Women and Cattle – Sick Road

Album Score: A-

“Worms in Women and Cattle.” It’s a name that sounds incredibly demeaning, but if you think about it, it’s true: there are worms in just about every living thing. It’s kind of scary and kind of creepy, but it’s also fascinating. Such is the Providence, RI quartet’s only release,Sick Road. Composed of nine bombastic black metal pieces from two to fifteen minutes long, the album conjures some of the most ghastly feelings possible. While the whole band sounds like they crawled out of a bog right before recording, the main culprit is Worms’ possessed frontwoman Pippi Zornoza, whose ungodly shrieks are bound to give even the most hardened black metal enthusiasts goosebumps. Combine those with some hair-raising and unpredictable compositions, and you get a black metal album like no other.

If you’ve heard Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy, then you have an idea how Pippi would sound in a medically-induced coma; this is a woman whose live performances consist of running through (and over) the crowd, ripping her clothes off, and having seizures on the asphalt ground while wailing in agony. The first ten minutes of opener “And the Dogs Now They Howl at Man Who Makes Them Slaves” consists of her echoing wails over creeping clean arpeggios, setting the tone for an explosion of the band’s hybrid of black metal, noise, and crust punk. While Sick Road is bookended by a pair of epics, the middle of the album is much more to-the-point: “Rule of the Parasite” rides a rolling triple-time bass line for its first half, then slowly descends into organized chaos as heavily distorted vocals trade off with crashing cymbals in a psychological war of attrition, while “Worms in Women and Cattle” makes its point in three brutal minutes.

Though there’s definitely some Weakling worship along the way, much of Sick Road is totally off the edge of the map – if you’ve heard anything like the gurgling, drowning guitars in “Refinement of Shame,” then Hades probably told you afterwards not to look back until you reached the world of the living. A rumbling groove between bass and drums serves as the song’s gnarled backbone, increasing in tempo and ferocity until it finally blows a fuse and gives way to the band’s most unsettling “composition”. Simply titled “Laughing,” the next track is two minutes of Pippi’s chorused cackling and wailing, like she’s being burned at the stake with the knowledge that everyone in the audience will die that night. As “Laughing” gives way to the hypnotic swells of “To Devour a Man,” it becomes clear that Worms in Women and Cattle doesn’t give a damn what you think you want to hear, and “He Kicks the Corpse” drives that point home as the band empties its creative tank to finish the album.

The emotional turmoil of Sick Road’s second half is unparalleled – it isn’t so much bleak as it is jubilantly maniacal. Though its whirring guitars and turbid drumming may owe a debt to other US black metal acts, Sick Road hammers away with an irreverence and furor rarely seen in more popular releases. By balancing the album’s extravagant bookends with a series of more focused compositions, Worms in Women and Cattle remains potent even while touching upon the post-metal elements that can drag down similar releases. There’s something about Sick Road that screams “cult classic” in the same vein as Dead as Dreamsand Extravasation, so perhaps it’s an album that will be similarly hailed when its hour comes round at last; more likely, it will remain one of those fascinating enigmas forever stuck in the purgatory of underground metal.


1. And the Dogs Now They Howl at Man Who Makes Them Slaves
2. Rule of the Parasite
3. Walk Guarded
4. Only Shooting Will Reform Me
5. Worms in Women and Cattle
6. Refinement of Shame
7. Laughing
8. To Devour A Man
9. He Kicks the Corpse

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