CD Review: “Snake Church” by Ringworm

Cleveland hardcore-metal outfit Ringworm spread the crossover gospel on its eighth record, Snake Church. The title track fires like shrapnel in the air piercing all in its path. The rollicking guitar riffs and hardcore drumming are relentless as vocalist HF belts out occult lyrics that would make Venom’s Cronos raise his chalice. “The Brotherhood Of The Midnight Sun” continues the satanic punk assault. The track is a solid meld of gothic riffing and hardcore speed that could wake the dead. Then there is the one two punch of “The Black Light Of A Living Ghost” and “Destroy Or Create.” These tracks clock in at less than two minutes and are sprinkled with some nice leads and riffs. The eerie spiraling guitar chords on “The Apparition” sound like several evil spirits chasing you in the forest in the dead of night.

Without question, Ringworm are all about speed on Snake Church. The band’s technical prowess is on display, however it does not overshadow the group’s aggression and pugnacious attitude. This mars Snake Church at times as some songs can grow a bit generic. However, the record is diverse enough that it is not a major hindrance. The quintet are solid musicians and are not afraid to throw out a complex time change or flashy guitar solo. The production is good and has a vintage 80s feel to it. It is neither murky or over polished and complements the gritty content on the record.

Snake Church is a charmer. The thrash meets hardcore sound will satisfy fans of Goatwhore, Toxic Holocaust and Dirty Rotten Imbeciles. Ringworm keep things interesting but terse which keeps the album from sounding stale. Snake Church is crossover thrash in all its unholy glory.

Check out the band’s Facebook page for news and tour dates:

https://www.facebook.com/Ringworm13

CD Review: “Constricting Rage of the Merciless” by Goatwhore

The album is relentlessly fast and coarse.

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Review by David Feltman

Criminally underrated and perhaps unfairly pigeonholed into the blackened death metal genre, Goatwhore is one of the most consistent and hardest working acts in extreme metal. Despite misfortune and multiple lineup changes, the band has managed to not only maintain its core, but also release a new album every two-to-three-years like clockwork while constantly touring.

While fans considered 2012’s Blood for the Master to be the band’s high point, Constricting Rage of the Merciless appears hell bent on one-upping its predecessor. The album is relentlessly fast and coarse, inviting comparison to Carcass’ recent Surgical Steel. The band’s sound is truly blackened in imagery only. The New Orleans natives cultivate a technical death metal style that is cross pollenated with all of the speed and shred of traditional thrash and the sleazy grooves of southern steel. Frontman Sammy Duet, of Acid Bath and Crowbar fame, has let his pedigree sound germinate with Goatwhore. Tracks like “Baring Teeth for Revolt” and “FBS” shift gears easily into Motorhead-esque grooves without losing momentum. Duet never shies away from shredding, dive-bombing guitar heroics on tracks like “Reanimating Sacrifice” and “Externalize This Hidden Savagery.” However, he shreds sparingly on the album, lightly seasoning the occasional track but never overpowering the other elements.

With the cult following the band has built in its tenure, Goatwhore could easily coast through tours on its existing back catalogue and/or idly turn out more of the same (cough*Cannibal Corpse*cough). But despite a nearly 20-year career, Goatwhore feels like a band just hitting its stride.

Goatwhore’s new album is brimming with energy, but to get the full gut pounding experience this is a band you should see live. Luckily, Goatwhore will be playing The Masquerade in Atlanta on 7/30/2014 with Morbid Angel.