Even in the realms of brutally forward-thinking metal, some bands stand out through their finely honed craft and intellectual apporach to composition and storytelling, going for an audience reaction that’s both visceral and cerebral. Spanish tech-death stalwarts Wormed are one such example; their arsenal of brain-twisting riffage is only topped by the complicated subject matter woven into their sci-fi epics. Exodromos, their sophomore record, turned ten years old three days ago, so we thought it best to celebrate its anniversary in style.
I really owe Wormed a lot. My longest and best pal dropped gigabytes and gigabytes of music on my ass when I returned from doing my high school senior year in California. Among it all was Planisphærium, Wormed’s 2002 debut LP. Now, I had already been dabbling pretty hard into extreme metal – Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, Slayer, Nile – but Wormed were something else entirely.
Planisphærium was so fucking antagonistic. It was like a gangbang for the ears. The production was abysmal (more so in terms of clarity than quality, though that’s subjective), instrumentation couldn’t decide what it wanted to be so it became everything but calm. Vocals were beastly and guttural, almost formless in their enunciation, noise among noise. I had gotten so much more music that was more approachable and melodic to my still pretty normie ass. So… why the fuck did I like them so much?
I think to me they represented the supreme heaviness and ugliness that I was in search for. I had come a long way from Toxicity and wanted the most extreme shit I could find, which is why I took on this amorphous mass of metal (which coincidentally had some classic Amorphis albums in it) from my friend to see what I could latch onto. It was a rite of passage feeling, having just finished (but not graduated) high school, still being very much ungrown and barely aware of who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I won’t say Wormed were the guidance counselor figure in my life, but I won’t say they didn’t contribute in a positive way either, because they did.
Though maybe less so than others, like the previously referenced System Of A Down, I can confidently say there’s no David who writes at Everything Is Noise without Wormed. It was with them and others that I really dug into extreme metal and music in general, carving out my likes, desires, and branching off into well-lit and dark paths alike. I found the void, stared into it, and it was like ‘hey, y’all might like these other voids as well.’
Everything I’ve said up to now has been retrospective relative to that time (2007-2010-ish), or in other words, before Wormed’s second album even came out. Up to then, they were sort of mythical in the way few bands are: drop a ridiculous debut album, leave, do not elaborate. 2013 changed all that, though. Exodromos came out and showed a much more forgiving, but still heavy as shit Wormed. Production was better, instrumentation was wild and melodic, and the vocals? Largely unchanged, but less burpy and more coherent – it’s a thin margin, but a margin nonetheless.
To many, me included, this was top form Wormed. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Planisphærium and their most recent album as of writing this, Krighsu, but Exodromos represents a bit of an apex. The Shai-Hulud in a world of earthworms. The sonic growth is just ridiculous. My favorite track is probably “Multivectorial Aeionization”. That intro riff claps cheeks. I love the ending track cataclysm of “Xenoverse Discharger”. Krighsu is a tech-metal wonderland that houses some of the best work in the genre of the last decade. And now Wormed are poised to release another cosmic enema upon us soon? Even if it doesn’t outdo this album, I’m excited. I can’t wait to not understand the song titles at all. They’re gonna be called shit like “Ionic Ectomastication”, “Subsurface Pentuteroment”, and “Starbursting Kineticism“ or things Elon Musk would name his kids.
And in case you didn’t think I said the band’s name enough in this piece: Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed Wormed 🙂
Oh, to be 18 again. Not because of the youngling naïvety, the ’just moved on my own and learning how to live’ chaos, being able to drink in public, or the general ambiguity of life itself, but because of the potential of fresh musical discoveries. I’ve generally been able to keep the momentum of stumbling upon novel, great musical things since then, but one could argue that when you’re younger, those things tend to pack exponentially more punch, especially when it comes to discovering whole new genres. It’s easier to experience significant impacts with things you have no prior knowledge of, and I’m sure many – if not all – of you can relate to that.
So I had just turned eighteen, and one warm summer day I woke up and opened the casual corporate streaming platform; browsing through related artists on someone else’s page, a certain artwork adorn in cold, electric hues caught my eye. I opened the album page, pressed play, and figuratively shat myself right there and then.
Wormed as a band is currently going strong on their 25th year, and this feature could’ve as easily been about their debut album Planisphærium, which celebrates its 20th this year, but when I wanted to pitch an album to cover in this feature, I automatically gravitated towards the ten-years old Exodromos, not least because of the above, quantum shift-esque aural gut punch. I can vividly remember just sitting there, letting my morning coffee cool for way too long, staring at the laptop screen while the room got shrouded in immaculate noise too thick to see through. It wasn’t as if I had just heard something nice, but more about getting blindsided by a holistic full-body experience. I oftentimes mention about getting myself blown to smithereens by this and that, but with Wormed and Exodromos, that mental picture stands perhaps more vividly than it does with anyone else.
A key aspect in Wormed’s output is their fluency in blending a whole eclectic palette into a singular and coherent, prime colour, that embellishes their appearance at all times. Musically, their uncanny concoction of brutal, technical death metal, mind-boggling grooves, and interesting ambiances and out-of-the-box tonalities is nothing if not unique. When you pair that with their signature sci-fi aesthetic and narratives, you truly got something extraordinary on your hands, and I know for a very firm fact that I’m not alone when it comes to thinking that. Wormed are, after all, globally revered, and bask in the spotlight of their own making to quite a notable extent, which is both intriguing and amazing to witness from one year to another. Keep in mind that this is all relative of course, since the underground baseline is still that – underground – even on a global scale. Still, people indulging with them add up to hundreds of thousands, which is no trifling feat for such a vicious and artistically unrelenting band.
”Nucleon”, an opener for the ages, sweeps in without much of a hassle, and instantly you notice that you’re caught in a vortex of annihilating pummeling and rhythmic sorcery that makes you want to both sit still and enjoy the ride as well as to render your living room a construction site by just bashing every fucking thing in your sight to bits and pieces. The level of energy is unrivaled, as split second moments come together with longer and somewhat steadier passages, and before you know it, you’re already swayed into ”The Nonlocality Trilemma” seamlessly. I must mention that to this day, I’m yet to come across an opening trio with such effect as the one on Exodromos, constituting of the mentioned songs alongside ”Tautochrone”. The trifecta is a flawless introduction into Wormed’s disjointed realm existing in parallel to ours, conjuring a stupid smirk to the listener’s ugly mug every time. You know the feeling I’m talking about, I hope. If not, well, here’s your chance to finally inflict it upon yourself.
I mentioned about the unison of split second moments and more consistent passages, which are a noticeable feat pulling Wormed’s mien fully together. It doesn’t matter if the part lasts for a literal second or half a minute or even longer, as each section is just as important and crucial as the ones preceding and subsequent to them, and the attention to detail is something to wonder at for years on end. This is particularly apparent in the mentioned songs alongside the likes of ”Stellar Depopulation” and ”Techkinox Wormhole”, and the rather gargantuan almost one-movement closer ”Xenoverse Discharger”. Honestly I could easily write a paragraph about each track, and even then it’d just be a general map of what each of them constitutes of, as the nuances are simply too myriad to decipher in simple writing.
As for the concept found on Exodromos, Wormed’s Bandcamp states the following:
’Sun has become bigger, now is a dead star, no time left for the total Solar’s System destruction. Man has stopped thinking as he use to do in order to achieve the join of the collective conscience through extremely complex machines. The awakening of the The Chryms, is imminent. Welcome to all of you to the CONEKnity project. You are one of them.’
This is but a mere glimpse of the internal world Wormed, and mainly their primus motor and vocalist, lyricist, and art director Phlegeton has crafted, and can be further read into through various interviews and posts by the band, which are easily accessible to anyone wanting to look into it. I realise now that simply remarking this narrative as the creation of their own ’world’ diminishes its order of magnitude significantly; there is no world, but an entire fucking universe. I could go in-depth with the various aspects explored in it, but honestly such a vast portion of it requires understanding of spatial terms and quantum mechanics that I’d rather let you look into it than to try to decode it and make a total ass of myself by slips of tongue and faulty terminology.
Now, the culmination point of all of the above meanderings boil down to this: Wormed is intelligent. That feature is prevalent and thorough with them musically, lyrically, artistically, aesthetically, and productionally. I’m not saying that getting your master’s degree in astral sciences is necessary to comprehend Wormed, but I’m also not not saying that. Surely the music is right there for anyone to enjoy by means they see fit, but I’m sure everyone understands what I meant with the intellectual notion. You don’t need to be smart to enjoy them (look at me for fuck’s sake), but I find it delightful that Wormed is a perfect example of being a sum of its parts, with layers upon layers upon layers to discover and delve in, should you want to. The band’s activity has varied quite a bit throughout their career – just look at the ten-year gap between Planisphærium and Exodromos – but since the latter they’ve put out another album and an EP of equal importance and effect, so here’s to hoping we’ll get to hear something new and unbelievably convoluted soon. Either way, Exodromos is always there to return to, and I’m happy about that.