Lair Of The White Worm – EP1
APF Records / Trepanation Recordings
Release Date: 15.10.21
Running Time: 21:25
Review by ‘Dark Juan’
Alright, my lovelies? It is Dark Juan here, and as I write this, I am being stared at by two moon-eyed, transforming witch-hares, who are in their turn surrounded by a taxidermied crow, and a goat skull. These are still in the house after I cheerfully conveyed Mrs Dark Juan, a cat familiar call Rutterkin, Black Shuck (that hound just don’t give a fuck! Yes, I know it is a lyric from The Darkness, and no, I couldn’t give a fuck either), and yet another mid-transformation witch hare, (Mrs Dark Juan appears to have found an untapped worldwide gap in the market for disturbing, bouncy, possessed animals) to the populous and august conurbation that is known as Scunthorpe! It will be accompanying us on our jollies to lovely old Whitby, to be given to the nice people who have permitted us to take the Smellhounds to the cottage we are renting from them for a week. They will probably regret this mightily after we depart. In the meantime, I am quite unwell (and am writing this while ensconced upon my sofa of abject agony, and probably death) and have managed to successfully not utter the cry frequently heard from Grimsby, “Who put the cunt in Scunthorpe?”
Obviously, this is a disgraceful state of affairs, and one that is not condoned by Dark Juan AT ALL. Even when the good burghers of Bury, Lancashire have historically referred to the town I grew up in, being Radcliffe, as “Dog Shit Valley”. Even though it is depressingly accurate. Thank whichever deity of you choose for Yorkshire, I say. Anyway, Mrs Dark Juan has pieces being displayed in an exhibition of Lincolnshire folklore and witchcraft at the North Lincolnshire Museum in Scunthorpe at the end of October until March 2022 and I really think if you’re nearby you should possibly attend. You can gain entrance for free, gratis, and for nothing, to quote Terry “The Metal Bastard” Wogan. Gratuitous plug over…
As you have no doubt deduced from the title of this thing I laughingly call a journalistic article, I am listening to the thoughtfully named “EP1” from Lair Of The White Worm, being the musical project of Napalm Death’s (as well as Malevolent Creation, Corrupt Moral Altar, and Venomous Concept) John Cooke. Clearly, this is a man who does not like sitting still and being quiet, as he has created a work of superior industrial malevolence. The mix and production of the record backs this up, being not so much a production job as a head-mashing maschinenklang of hyperbolic proportions. There are times when roaring, greasy metallic noise overwhelms everything else, but this EP is an object lesson of music being power, and power being delivered rather more like a steam-powered jackhammer breaking up concrete, as opposed to a seamless application of precision like a lathe. Precise this record isn’t. It’s the musical equivalent of smoke belching diesel engines, groaning and clanking tank tracks, and field guns lobbing 40-pound shells over your head.
Imagine, if you will, a machine composed of parts of Godflesh, P.H.O.B.O.S, Lament Cityscape, early Pitch Shifter (when they were good and when they weren’t trying to turn themselves into a shitty version of the already shitty Spineshank), Pigface, The Berzerker, Meathook Seed, and Killing Joke. Now imagine the unholy racket that combination would produce. Congratulations! You are now traumatised! And probably in need of psychological help! But you also now know what Lair Of The White Worm sound like.
The opening track, ‘Virtu’, actually hurts to listen to loud, such is the puissance of the blackened industrial music it employs, and especially the vocal of Corrupt Moral Altar’s Chris Reese (John Cooke is a band mate) which shriek and howl above the sonic corruption like some kind of demented banshee overseer in a Satanic steel mill. The music throughout the EP encompasses every guitar effect known to man, e-bows being used on ultrafuzzy bass guitar, samples of insane gabbling, Presidential addresses and news reports, and everything in between.
The music is all downtuned to B, and is soupy and cloying and oily and greasy. It is the antithesis of the super polished American sounds of Ministry, Fear Factory and their ilk. Lair Of The White Worm are the matt black, rusty, and noisy equivalent to the shiny, streamlined, and chromed American industrial blueprint, and are far better for it. There is a palpable sense of menace and sheer mechanical murder around Lair Of The White Worm that I haven’t heard in the British music since The Machinist, and have never heard in American Industrial at all.
The whole record is an aural assault on the senses. Played in a live setting, Lair Of The White Worm’s music would plaster the entire audience against the back wall, to collapse bonelessly on the floor, weeping and broken. This doesn’t mean there aren’t changes of dynamic on the record, however. The last song on the EP (‘Waster’) is a chimeric mix of Killing Joke style dynamics, and P.H.O.B.O.S’ lo-fi, ultra-percussive assault, and is absolutely fucking superb. An echoey vocal gives way to a primal roar and the music switches from “gentle”, lazy chords to comprehensive sonic destruction. I listened to this with cans on, and Mrs Dark Juan had to ask what I was listening to, and to turn it down because she could hear it across the room. She is not a fan…
Based on my listening over the past few weeks, pandemic isolation has brought us a fucking colossal seam of magnificent metal music. There simply is no excuse, based on the quality of the releases I have chosen to review recently, for ANYONE to be releasing an average or sub-par record. The bar has been lifted impossibly high and it’s up to everyone to keep fucking pushing. Metal, in all its myriad forms, has never been so healthy or vibrant or interesting, and Lair Of The White Worm have released a fucking industrial classic!
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has been sitting quietly for around 20 minutes now, trying to unpick bits of his brain matter from the tapestry behind him. It is yet another 10/10 for Lair Of The White Worm and their unadulterated aural Armageddon. I’m getting bored of having to be nice to everyone. Is it time for a Warrior Soul release yet?!
03. Bankrupt Morality
04. Into Ludes
05. Misery Box
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