Vermin Womb is overtly a side project of the sludge/doom band Primitive Man by way of shared frontman Ethan McCarthy, but their lineage goes back to Primitive Man’s predecessor band, the ambitiously-named Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire. That band’s later recordings clearly serve as the template for Vermin Womb’s overbearing assault, and the rhythm section of bassist Zach Harlan and drummer J.P. Damron features in each. (In fact, the current Vermin Womb lineup is identical to the final CTTOAFF lineup.)
It’s tough to know where to stick Vermin Womb in metal’s complex subgenre taxonomy, as they don’t fit neatly in any one basket. Decline, their full-length debut, feels like an unusually meaty grindcore record at first, thanks to its terse songwriting and Damron’s absolutely withering blastbeats. But despite their efficiency, Vermin Womb could just as easily land in death metal territory — McCarthy’s guitar shifts from chord to tarry chord with an oily, seasick sloshing that evokes Portal on fast-forward. Portal in turn have a substantial black metal influence, which makes itself known on Decline via the reverby production and the Vermin Womb’s penchant for speedpicking virtually all of the time. So there’s a lot of moving parts in this music, but chances are you won’t think about them because you’re too busy getting stomped the fuck out by its absurd heaviness. It’s nasty, forceful stuff, and it scratches a primordial itch that only this kind of gutter slime can really reach. Listen.