Being the only grind band in the village can’t be easy, and South Carolina’s WVRM can lay claim to in fact being the only one in their local scene. This hasn’t deterred them, however, from releasing several EPs, splits and LPs prior to this, their third full-length Colony Collapse. We’re immediately treated to ‘Walled Slum City’ opening with a wall of feedback and sampled speech before a retching scream signals the arrival of the grind. The buzzaxe guitars and frenetic drumming are a hallmark of grind as a genre and WVRM are determined not to disappoint, with the track slowing down just after the 1:30 mark into a vicious beatdown before collapsing into feedback.
The feedback loops and drones are a hallmark of Colony Collapse, bridging each track together and preventing any break from the unrelenting aural terror WVRM conjure here. Unfortunately this is also one of the drawbacks of the record - grind records are typically short and this is no exception but the lack of break means that listening fatigue definitely sets in at times as the album goes on, despite being fourteen songs spread over less than thirty minutes.
In spite of this though, the band draw heavily on the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to the music and are more than willing to experiment, as evidenced by the excellent title track which experiments with feedback and drones along with sparse drumming to create an unsettling, suffocating atmosphere that perfectly sets up album closer ‘Angel of Assassination’, a vicious, bludgeoning whirlwind of razor-sharp riffing and demented screams.
Other easy highlights are ‘Tank Reaper’, with its gurgling vocals and neck-snapping riff that occasionally erupts with vicious blastbeats, its mid-paced stomp bringing some much-welcome variety to the table before collapsing into blastbeats and feedback and the downright disgusting ‘Hands That Bear The Hive’, just 33 seconds long that coalesces into’Thorn Palace’, a near-perfect trifecta of grinding fury and misery.
It would be remiss to describe Colony Collapse as accessible in any way - this is grind after all, and its urgency, aggression and chaotic maelstrom does not produce Top 40 hits in any way. That being said this is an absolutely compelling record that melds brutality, experimentalism and utter nastiness only found in grind into a record that rewards repeat listens as more technical details such as the occasional glimpse of melody or even memorable riffs emerge from the unholy racket on display. Despite the issues with possible listener fatigue, WVRM have produced a record that is definitely not just grind-by-numbers, with enough tips and tricks up its filthy sleeves, including masterfully deployed beatdowns in almost every case and the experimentalism of the title track, to keep listeners reeling and heads spinning, encapsulating the misery, confusion and despair of modern times.
Colony Collapse Is Released April 3rd Via Prosthetic Records.