Oozing Wound’s Facebook page tags them as ‘Speed Space Metal’, but don’t expect any sleek futurity; they operate at the raw/street end of the metal spectrum, part of a DIY Chicago scene characterised by others just as excessively tasteful, cf. Black Pus, Rectal Hygenics, etc.
Recorded in just four days of studio time, Whatever Forever is the band’s third since 2013, and the last by this lineup, with guitarist Zack Weil and bassist Kevin Cribbin saying (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) that drummer Kyle Reynolds is now “Dead to us”.
The music is more intelligent than you might expect—a straighter complement to Lightning Bolt—and the lyrics, though no poetry, are on the more intelligent side of black metal’s de rigueur nihilism.
Having said which, “Rambo 5 (Pre-Emptive Strike)” is pitched as a pitch for a new Rambo movie (god forbid), and tears from artful back-masked guitar into anvilled drumming, monster riff assault and staccato, retched-up vocals in pretty short order. “Diver” and “Deep Space” only up the ante on the double bass drum-driven impetus and lockstep riffola, but concise melodic heads and pattern-locked instrumental breaks make these pieces accessible; almost throwbacks to proto-thrash, but with an awareness of Mastodon-style progressive metal bleeding into their developments. There’s an implicit awareness of electronic noise music too, in the post-production filigrees of guitar intros and outros.
Weil’s vocal is strangulated and angry, but he mostly keeps that anger real, rarely slipping into the metal cliche of guttural/demonic enunciation.
After those three 4-5 minute tracks on side one of the double vinyl edition, side two has a brace that push eight minutes apiece, and there’s a mix of shorter songs and even shorter instrumentals on side three. Side four has an etching, no music.
“Mercury in Retrograde Virus” and “Weather Tamer”, the longest cuts, are the apotheosis of the group’s heaviness, connecting back to Black Sabbath but in a more ruthless and relentless way. Oozing Wound’s sound is stripped back by comparison with much alternative progressive metal, with a tighter focus and a rollercoaster’s relentlessness momentum.
On “Weather Tamer” (dedicated to Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma: “The man famous for bringing a snowball onto the senate floor in a confused attempt at explaining the ‘big lie’ of climate change. When we don’t have fresh water anymore and all the coastal cities become water parks, you can thank this shit stain of a human”) the momentum’s fed by heavy polyrhythms, but also broken down in a doomy midsection and feedback-spun outro.
And so onto side three, and a grungy, distinctly heavy-Melvins influence creeps into “Everything Sucks, And My Life Is A Lie”, along with a hint of something anthemic pinpointed by soaring lead guitar licks brushed aside by a furious explosion of full kit drumming and amped-up, chain-fx’d wailinh. This segues into”Eruptor”, the first of two instrumentals, which is where the Lightning Bolt comparison starts to make sense. For me, the set peaks here.
“Tachycardia” is brutally effectively metal redux, leaning away from Mastodon now towards High on Fire. “Ever feel like you want to die,” shouts Weil,” only to realize you really just want everyone else to?” So angry. So the shimmering, electric-acoustic ambience of “You Owe Me, Iommi”, the second instrumental, comes as rather a surprise. It’s not as pretty as, say, Sabbath’s “Fluff”, which seems an obvious inspiration, but neither is it quite so incongruous.
Still the naked aggression of “Sky Creep”, with lyrics inspired by the really fucked up story of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov’s death, comes as a final brutal wake up call, and the play-out has a snippet of studio-chat, the band whooping in post-cut exhilaration. They know they nailed it.
Zack Weil guitar, vocals; Kevin Cribbin bass; Kyle Reynolds drums.
The Poisoned Glass – 10 Swords.
Merzbow / Keiji Haino / Balázs Pándi – An Untroublesome Defencelessness.
Slobber Pup – Pole Axe.
Slayer + Sleep + Wolves in the Throne Room + Melvins + YOB – I’ll Be Your Mirror 2012.
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