Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Worm Ouroboros: Come the Thaw (2012)

I'm frantic in your soothing arms
I cannot sleep in this down-filled world

The above lines come from "The Unnamed Feeling," a track from Metallica's almost universally-maligned St. Anger. Normally I ignore lyrics, which is easy enough when vocals are grunted, gurgled, shrieked, and rasped. But despite my normal disdain for that aspect of music, and the general hatred for that album, these lyrics have always stuck with me. They speak to me. I'm sure all metalheads can relate to frustration at anything which is too nice, too soft, and too comfortable.

Such is my reaction to Amber Asylum. The much-praised neofolk group makes music that, at one level, I get, and I really want to enjoy. But part of me rebels at just how fluffy the whole damn thing is. Contrast that with Worm Ouroboros. On Come the Thaw, they've created something that has everything I sought with Amber Asylum, but doesn't drive me insane by being so insubstantial.

I'm a little out of my depth to describe precisely what genre this falls into. I'm going to go with dark ambient/psychedelic shoegaze, but call it what you will. For the most part, everything about it is understated. The female vocals (from Lorraine Rath and Jessica Way) are ethereal, wispy fog. If the wind blows through, they'll disintegrate. Aesop Dekker's drumming is gentle and sparse. For long stretches all you may hear is a cymbal building before an abrupt stop, and then nothing for a very long time. Synths and guitars are generally subtle. But that's not all there is to it.

Adding a corpus of substantiality is Rath's trance-inducing bass work. It puts some backbone and heartbeat into something that would otherwise collapse. Way's guitar brings occasional dissonance, psychedelic echoes, odd chords, and even distortion. At times it threatens to turn into metal, but doesn't seem like it's holding back so much as going only as far as needed.

The Verdict: It's beautiful, ethereal, eerie, and haunting. But it's more than just an autumn breeze. It's rooted. Worm Ouroboros made pretty and soft music that I can actually listen to without pulling out the rest of my hair. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Buy Come the Thaw


  1. "going only as far as needed" I like that. Haven't heard the album yet, But I'm looking forward to it.

  2. Big, Big fan of the Worm since I heard them open for Grayceon in San Francisco last year. Even though at the concert the bass was miked so high that it distorted painfully, there was enough there even in a badly sound produced concert to buy their debut disc. Really, really neat stuff...and it is that bass that adds the fascinating element to the music. As much as like this album, their debut is even better from a songwriting standpoint (4 out of 5, or even 4.5!).