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Worm Ouroboros - "Come the Thaw" (CD)

Worm Ouroboros - "Come the Thaw" CD cover image

"Come the Thaw" track listing:

1. Ruined Ground (10:35)
2. Further Out (7:19)
3. Release Your Days (7:52)
4. When We Are Gold (9:32)
5. Withered (7:32)
6. Penumbra (7:53)

Reviewed by on April 30, 2012

"Sorrow, longing, and despair clash with a bright, headstrong temper that helps shape the complex fabrics of the album."

Entrancing and lofty in its exploration, “Come The Thaw” is masked in chilling beauty and vast darkness. Worm Ouroboros showed these off on their first self-titled album, and have pried and tweaked their sound to amplify the fragile emotional state the six songs on “Come The Thaw” reside in. It’s a perplexing album, not because of anything overly technical, but because of how dense and unfriendly it is. Time softens up its hard shell, and that’s when the real glory of “Come The Thaw” reveals itself.

Minimalistic songwriting is a component of a fair share of the album; minimal applies to long stretches of a soothing female voice and the occasional strumming of a bass or electric guitar. Some may find it to be deathly boring, a redundant and lifeless trek made more painful by it going on for an average of seven minutes. Those points are valid for those used to frenzy and chaos in their music, but those who get pleasure out of stark ambience and subtle attributes will dig into “Come The Thaw” with hungry ferocity.

Restraint is the band’s greatest asset on “Come The Thaw,” but that does not indicate how the entire album plays out. Never going above a mid-tempo, there are still moments where the band picks up steam and gets heads bobbing. “When We Are Gold” rouses up a brief excursion into doom, though without the blatant heaviness much of the genre dabbles in. The lead guitar on “Withered” is as flashy as the musicianship gets.

Guitarist Jessica Way and bassist Lorraine Rath treat their instruments not as powerful weapons to shamelessly exploit, but as imperative tools to survival. Neither gets top billing; on “Ruined Ground,” it is Rath who takes the lead and has Way supporting her, while “Further Out” turns it around and has Way up in control. It’s a back-and-forth mechanic that plays out with not a payoff of proportional size, but a suitable catalyst to the lulling feeling the trio of Worm Ouroboros brings out in each song.

Way and Rath pull double-duty as vocalists, reaching their peak when harmonizing on “Withered.” The vocals heighten the haunting aesthetics of the music, not causing a disruption of the overall mood. Agalloch/ex-Ludicra drummer Aesop Dekker is brought in to provide a back-beat, and not much else. His non-dominating performance is befitting, and though he does hold back from the usually vicious style of playing he does with Agalloch, he fits the calming aura of “Come The Thaw.”

“Come The Thaw” is not an everyday listen for the average metal head, but for special occasions, it fits whatever emotional state one could be in. Sorrow, longing, and despair clash with a bright, headstrong temper that helps shape the complex fabrics of the album. In a modern climate where bigger is better, and dozens of bands vie to be as brutal/catchy/memorable as possible, Worm Ouroboros is unconcerned with those goals. They set out to create an album where atmosphere takes priority, and they accomplished this like no other band has done in the past few years.

Highs: Entrancing dual female vocals, the definiton of atmosphere, sucks the listener in, even when songs go over seven minutes

Lows: Can be too subdued for the average listener to grasp, requires the listener to be in the right mood to enjoy

Bottom line: An album not for everyone, "Come The Thaw" is the perfect soundtrack to a gloomy, rain-drenched night.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)