Review: Wormhole – Almost Human
Come on and slam, if you wanna jam.
A few years back when Wormhole dropped The Weakest Among Us, I was absolutely blown away. Here was this band I’d never heard of, pushing forward a genre in ways I didn’t even think were possible. As much as I respect brutal death and slam, there are times when it’s just too much for me. Either it’s a sonic wave of incomprehensible guitar work, or slams that go on for so long that I get bored. Then there’s bands that just crush it like Defeated Sanity and Wormed. Finding the right formula of catchy yet technical isn’t an easy thing to do. Listening to The Weakest Among Us made me realize there was a lot of ground that hadn’t been covered yet. The blasts were faster than hell, the slams remained fresh, and the riffs just never stopped coming. I especially loved how Wormhole managed to move through ideas seamlessly, changing time signatures and playing styles on the fly while also inserting random bouts of melody that shouldn’t belong but somehow fit just perfectly. I bought the vinyl. I easily consider that record to be a masterpiece start to finish. I think that’s why it pains me so much to say I think they missed the mark a bit on their newest album.
That’s not to say Almost Human is a bad. It’s not. It’s fantastic. But it’s fantastic from a technical perspective and not a fun to listen to perspective. The band seems to have leaned into the dissonant guitar work so much it almost feels like a different band playing in a different genre. There’s times I could swear I was listening to Artificial Brain, but then there’s simply too much melody for that. There’s also moments where it feels like The Faceless got the lineup from Planetary Duality back together and wrote a new record, or Despised Icon had a guest spot to throw in some top tier deathcore. It’s kind of a great mix of influences. The trouble being it sounds less like Wormhole and more like those other bands. Sure they are bands that I like, but I like Wormhole for their originality and approach to the genre.
On their last record the phrase, “Nothing sounds like this”, crossed my mind often. On this album, not so much. More to that point, on the former album the slams were so cleverly thought out it seemed to spawn a newish genre in itself: Tech Slam. So what happened here? The slams are still present on this album, the movements between them just aren’t as compelling. They spend more time doing the dissonant melodic guitar thing, which is good…but it’s not exactly heavy. When it is heavy, such as the track, “Bleeding Teeth Fungus”, it is an enjoyable experience. There’s just a bit less zest than I would have expected. Those moments of greatness are fewer and farther between.
I think most of you are gonna think I’m an idiot for expressing my disappointment on this album. In truth, it’s probably gonna make a lot of people happy. I will concede, there are some blisteringly fast passages. The drummer takes no prisoners, and the guitar work is just right on the money. The bass is also a standout, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how absolutely vile and disgustingly savage the vocals are. It’s hard to believe some of those sounds were made by a human being and that’s delightful. I think I had just put this band on a pedestal. The bar was set high, and I let my expectations get in the way a bit. I’ve spun the record twice now and it absolutely warrants repeat listens. I just want to layout a fair warning to others like myself. This is a bit of a different direction for the band. While it wasn’t entirely my cup of tea, it’s still goddamn great. No one is going to listen to it and say it sucks. It’s just not objectively groundbreaking like the last one.