Wormed – “Agliptian Codex Cyborgization” (Stereogum Premiere)
The first time I heard Wormed, a decade or so back, my first thought was: “This is completely fucking absurd.”
I didn’t like them much at first, or for several years afterwards. But in the period since, Wormed have become one of my favorite bands, in large part because they’re completely absurd. This Spanish band plays brutal death metal, a concentrated form of sonic ridiculousness distilled down from a style that’s already known for excess: insanely fast blastbeats, insanely low vocals, insanely offensive lyrics (typically about sexual violence and gore), and insanely heavy slams. Wormed check most of the boxes, with some modifications. Their catalog drops the squicky gore themes in favor of spinning a long, abstruse science fiction yarn based on (evidently fairly accurate!) astrophysics. And they’ve got an aural aesthetic to match — they supercharge the intense technicality of brutal death metal with a futuristic prog sheen, creating space for disorienting polyrhythms and even some genuine melody to creep in.
So Wormed is marginally more highbrow than your stock brutal death metal band, but their music is still totally absurd to listen to, especially in the space-cricket vocal department. And that’s an asset! We’re living in a world where Donald Trump is the likely Republican nominee for president, where everyone’s obsessed with music but nobody can make any money off it, where “hoverboards” are commonplace but they actually have wheels, where the line between fantasy and reality is constantly blurred by technology that everyone uses but that almost nobody understands. The basic facts of our daily lives are ridiculous and nonsensical! Better to embrace the madness and laugh, I say, and Wormed’s brutal absurdity / absurd brutality is leading the chorus of giggles.
To wit: “Agliptian Codex Cyborgization.” Look at how off-the-wall that title is! Try saying it out loud without smiling. Try the same with titles like “Neomorph Mindkind,” “Computronium Pulsar Nanarchy,” and “Zeroth-Energy Graviton,” all of which also appear on the upcoming Krighsu, Wormed’s third LP. And then try spinning the tune without being sucked clear into the hi-tech riff wormhole that this band generates every time they pick up their instruments. Experiencing their music is like riding a rollercoaster or watching a late-model CGI actionfest; at first you’ll just be blinded by the brain-overloading onslaught, but repeated exposure will turn you into a junkie. Wormed sit atop the brutal death heap in part because they bury genuinely catchy tunes beneath all the flashy mayhem. I’ve literally heard this song’s hyperspeed hook of an ending in my dreams. And that’s absurd too! But I love it. Listen.
Krighsu will be out on 3/25 via Season Of Mist.