Denver grind trio Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire quietly dissolved after the release of their 2011 Visceral EP and subsequent split with France’s Nesseria. Those short, but certainly not sweet releases showed the band stripping away the bulk of their spastic flair in favor of more grotesque, disemboweling dissonance and brooding atmosphere. They arguably featured some of the hardest hitting material the band had ever produced, which made their eventual disbandment somewhat bittersweet. Although the CTTTOAFF crew went on to do other things, most notably Primitive Man, it was the love of grind that brought two-thirds of the band back together. Thus, Vermin Womb was born.
Their 2014 EP, Permanence, picked up where CTTTOAFF left off. It was a monstrous, cacophonous release full of disfigured, angular instrumentation played at blinding speeds and drenched in caustic noise. It was propelled by a pervasive sense of disdain for humanity, and was the aural equivalent of a complete mental breakdown. Its six agonizing tracks took the unyielding dread of CTTTOAFF‘s final releases and turned them up to 11.
Fast-forward to 2016 and Vermin Womb return with their first full-length release, entitled Decline. Rejoined by original CTTTOAFF drummer JP Damron, Vermin Womb officially complete the transformation into an unapologetic, misanthropic beast that its sister band started. For roughly 24 minutes, Decline plummets listeners into a dark, claustrophobic abyss of which there is no escape. These Coloradans strive to make sure no listeners leave the record unscathed and, unsurprisingly, they succeed.
“Entomb” comes crashing in through a thick of cloud of feedback with stampeding, grotesque instrumentation to get the record started off right. Ethan McCarthy’s disfigured, frantic guitar riffs transform from one unorthodox shape to the next, before smoothing out into a dismal tremolo-picked groove. His frightening six-string conjurations are heightened by Zach Harlan’s bellowing, subterranean bass lines and Damron’s inhuman percussive presence. McCarthy pushes the auditory hatred a step further with his collection of guttural growls and corrosive vocal rasps.
“Industrialist” follows shortly after with a burst of malevolent melodies that bleeds seamlessly into a swirling murk of dissonance in which no particular riff can be discerned from the other. The tune eventually switches gears and churns out a menacing groove that slowly becomes more misshapen and riddled with noise as it lurches towards the end. Tracks like “Disrepair”, “Present Day” and “Inner World” are short assaults of unrivaled ugliness. The guitars writhe, grumble and shriek feverishly as the equally tumultuous rhythm section issues a monstrous attack of its own. Its like being ripped apart by a menagerie of unfathomable, nightmarish creatures.
The album’s penultimate cut “Slave Money” starts off as hellacious as any other track on the album with a quick blitz of life-ending, abysmal grind. But this ambush of misanthropic madness transitions into an arresting, oddly-shaped riff that possesses a bastardized sense of groove. This section of angular sludge gradually morphs into discordant mayhem, similar to that of its opening onslaught. The album’s final track, “Cancer”, attempts to combine all of the characteristics of the record into a three-minute bombardment of hatred. The track opens up with a swell of blackened, grimy grindcore, rife with dissonance and atonal riffage, before flowing into a d-beat-laden beatdown, and further into a sludgy dirge. Decline ends here and listeners who have not shed a drop of blood should consider themselves to be the lucky ones.
Overwhelmingly negative and insurmountably heavy, Decline is the perfect record for those whose lives are consumed with misanthropy and nihilism. It is a gruesome monstrosity that eradicates everything in its path and refuses to let up. Its like being dragged through all of the pain and hatred the world has to offer, forcing the listener to feel complete disgust for the human race for 24 minutes straight. Vermin Womb succeeds where CTTTOAFF did not and have crafted a truly uncomfortable and unapologetic album.
Release Date: October 28, 2016
Label: Translation Loss/Throatruiner
Favorite Tracks: “Entomb”, “Industrialist”, “Rank and File”, “Pitiless” and “Cancer”
For Fans Of: Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, Crowpath, Dead in the Dirt and Maruta