Metalcore is a tough old genre. Often tormented with clichés and tropes that limit and flanderize. Ringworm have just about managed to find a few ways around these limits; their thrash metal influence has maximised the size of their creative bubble, their reemphasis on imaginative instrumentation rather than overly-technical playing makes them stand out, and their reluctance to fall into the trap of breakdowns and overindulgent sweep picking is constantly refreshing.
That being said, if you were giving ‘Snake Church’ a definitive genre title, it’d be hardcore. The speciality is speed, and the noticeable vector of character borders more on punk than it does metal. Still, the bellowing, metalcore angst shouts are present, but there is method to that bludgeoning madness. ‘Snake Church’ isn’t a sprint, it’s a slither…through a church…
In fairness, Ringworm get the majority of the metalcore out of their system on the album’s eponymous opener. It has that familiar double bass pedal percussion that one could easily find more tiring than rhythmically enthralling. Stylistically, a lot of credit goes to this opening track, the band pretty much pulls out all the stops, ranging from metalcore to hardcore to thrash quite seamlessly.
A good few tracks that follow, such as ‘Brotherhood of the Midnight Sun’, ‘Fear the Silence’ and ‘Destroy or Create’ focus more on the straight-forward hardcore approach. However, a few songs have really nice little twists in them where they’ll suddenly focus on a very quick bass solo or something similar. It’s hardly a nuance or an innovation, but it’s quite pleasing. A lot of bands that go for a similar sound are obviously very talented musicians, but few show off the diversity of their talent like Ringworm.
Speaking of that blending, cross-assessment of instrumental prowess and outside-the-box-esque thought; another pleasant factor is the fact that there isn’t really a reliance on guitar solos. There’s no reliance on redundant, high, fast soloing – that’s not to say there aren’t any guitar solos at all, but look at ‘Angel of War’, a quick glimpse at one and then it’s back to business, good stuff.
‘Snake Church’ is a fulfilling listen all-in-all, but it’s hardly going to be making any new fans of the genres on show out of those that haven’t really listened before. As mentioned, the album doesn’t feel limited, Ringworm are frequently releasing breaths of fresh air in an otherwise polluted environment; and not only is that ideal, it’s damn right important. Ringworm are yet to stagnate, ‘Snake Church’ is proof.
‘Snake Church’ is out now via Relapse Records
This Ringworm article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor