If Vermin Womb’s goal was to release the most vicious and disgusting album of the year, they’ve achieved it. The Colorado grind/death metal trio, formerly known as Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, offer up a frantic slab of intense, dissonant hostility on their debut LP, Decline, which is out tomorrow (October 28) through Translation Loss. Featuring vocalist/guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy (Primitive Man, Withered), bassist Zach Harlan and drummer JP Damron, Vermin Womb follow up their 2014 EP, Permanence, with 10 chaotic tracks that are angrier, darker and even more despondent and nihilistic than their predecessors. In this recent interview with Svbterranean, McCarthy took some time out while on tour to discuss the band’s inception following the dissolution of CTTTOAFF, as well as Vermin Womb’s genre-defying sound, the personal lyrical themes on Decline, and more.
How’s the Vermin Womb tour going?
Between Vermin Womb, Primitive Man, and tour managing Cobalt, it seems like you’ve been on tour for most of the year.
This tour has been absolutely amazing in terms of overall turnout and being able to play with some talented bands. I have been on tour steadily since February. We have about eight days left and I’ve been on the road for seven months, so I’m really happy to be in the home stretch.
Vermin Womb is essentially the rebirth of Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire. Can you describe why CTTTOAFF disbanded, how Vermin Womb came to be and why you decided to call it that?
CTTTOAFF disbanded because no one cared about us. And after nine years of complete and utter failure we were burned out. I started Primitive Man and then Vermin Womb just as a studio thing with Zach who was also in CTTTOAFF and a dude from the north west named Patrick. After some time passed we realized that we would never be able to do anything else with our drummer living in Portland so we asked JP to join up with us again and here we are. The name change is because we started it with another person and because no one will take a band called Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire seriously.
Decline is the band’s debut full-length. How are you feeling about how the album turned out?
I feel like it is the best thing I have been a part of/ever recorded in terms of fast music.
What was the writing and recording process like for this release?
Well, in between Primitive Man tours I would come home and write songs with the other two members. We got through about five songs and then we wrote the last five a week or two before we had to record. We recorded with Dave Otero at Flatline Audio and that is always a positive experience.
How do you feel this album compares to the previous EP?
I think it is way more bleak and focused. More furious all the way around.
Vermin Womb’s sound kind of defies the genre barriers of grindcore and death metal, and there are some other elements going on (sludgy moments, murky black metal tones and vocals that I can only describe as terrifying). How do you describe the sound? What are the influences behind this approach?
Well, we call it “unhinged grinding death” because I think that sums up the idea of the sounds we are trying to mesh. Some bands that influenced our direction are Beherit, Blasphemy, Knelt Rote, Revenge, Napalm Death, Coffins, Proclamation, Arch Goat, Terrorizer, Incantation, Immolation, Repulsion and Morbid Angel.
Decline is overwhelmingly dark and despondent. What lyrical themes are present and what inspires them?
I’m writing about a few things: the mental and physical decline of my father, the decline of the world around us, the decline of myself as a person mentally and physically, living a fringe life and what comes with that, the decline of certain relationships I once had with people, the negative aspects of the changing face of the city I live in, and lastly, my lack of compassion for my enemies and my desire to completely destroy them through a manifestation of pure hatred via aural terror. All the lyrics are “real time” because we recorded in April and I wrote all the lyrics that week, so it’s interesting to sing songs that are dealing with issues that are still very fresh and happening.
Compared to Primitive Man, Vermin Womb is extremely fast and chaotic, but the underlying emotions seem to relate. In what ways do the bands differ and how are they similar?
They’re different because there is still an underlying hope for positive change in Primitive Man. There is none of that for Vermin Womb. Less existentialist more nihilist in Vermin Womb.
What do you get out of Vermin Womb that you don’t from Primitive Man and vice versa?
I get to sing with blind hatred and be less introspective. And the obvious speed differences.
You also create your own artwork. What influenced the design for Decline?
It’s from a lucid dream I had. The figure on the cover is decaying while looking at the key to destruction and victory in its hand.
What’s coming up next for you (including Primitive Man and other endeavours)?
Primitive Man are recording for a new full-length in April, then Vermin Womb will be recording for a split with Beasthrone (L.A.), as well as one other band I can’t announce just yet. Both bands are recording at Flatline Audio again.
Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Infernal hails emoji.
Order Decline through Translation Loss here and catch Vermin Womb on their remaining tour dates:
10/27 San Francisco, CA-SF Eagle §•
10/28 Sacramento, CA-Starlight §•
10/29 Eureka, CA-The Siren’s Song Tavern §•
10/30 Eugene, OR-The Boreal §•
10/31 Portland, OR-High Water Mark §•
11/01 Seattle, WA-Highline •
11/02 Boise, ID -Wastelander Studios
11/03 Denver, CO-Mutiny Info Cafe W/ FISTER