Spanish brutal technical death masters Wormed have certainly carved out a niche for themselves. There are certain aspects one expects from a band’s sound when hearing those labels. However, Wormed go above and beyond. Ridiculous vocals, dissonant, alien riffing and unrelenting heaviness are what Wormed bring to the table. With slam influences and a grindcore background, Wormed had already became a name that is instantly synonymous with their unique sound after their debut album Planisphaeruim. Their Quasineutrality EP after that showed that they were no one-hit-wonder, and their follow-up Exodromos was an instant classic. With such high expectations and a niche sound, their third release was surely going to be a turning point for their career, deciding whether they’re relegated to one-trick-pony status, or if they can keep building their sound. Well, Krighsu is upon us, and Wormed show no sign of slowing down.
Exodromos was bound to be a tough act to follow, but Wormed have stepped up to the task admirably. In terms of its core principles, the overall sound does remain largely the same: maddeningly heavy riffs, a punishing drum section practically unprecedented in its sheer relentlessness, and a sleek outer layer that seems especially appropriate given the band’s sci-fi themes. Indeed, Krighsu is incredibly focused and precise throughout its half hour runtime, and its calculated mayhem is a true spectacle to behold. But while the fundamentals remain unchanged, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Krighsu is a case of the band stagnating at all.
The downtuned twin-guitar riffing, an obvious hallmark of Wormed’s sonic assault, rarely lets up once it has achieved full steam, impossibly brutal in its quality but somehow crafted in a way that avoids the tired old extreme metal problem of having riffs that are indistinguishable from one another. That being said, herein lies the album’s biggest change from its predecessor. Whereas Exodromos featured copious amounts of low-end intensive riffs, Krighsu‘s guitar lines feel a little more intricate and refined. This admittedly feels like it works towards the album’s detriment at first, since the guitars feel like they have a bit less of a punch to them, but several listens later the guitars end up settling rather nicely in the mix, and allow the rest of the chaotic instrumentation along with vocalist Phlegeton’s signature delivery that much more room to breathe during the proceedings.
This also means more complex and intricate repeating motifs, with “Computronium Pulsar Nanarchy” in particular having an ominous yet extremely memorable melodic hook at the halfway point. In addition, the opening of “Eukaryotic Hex Swarm”, the album’s closest equivalent to Exodromos‘ monolithic “Xenoverse Discharger”, is easily one of the most adrenaline-pumping blast beat-laden moments in recent metal history.
All things considered, Krighsu does build upon the acclaimed sound established on Exodromos, albeit not a whole lot; then again, the sound on Exodromos was damn near perfect as brutal death metal of Wormed’s ilk goes, so it’s not like much could be improved anyways. Perhaps the only flaw to be found on the album is that the ambient, scratchy outros sometimes end up overstaying their welcome a tad, and lasting for quite some time before a given song ends. While it does occasionally feel like time wasted, the gripe is ultimately a minor one, and very much overshadowed by the sheer quality to be found on the rest of the album. Wormed’s successful formula of combining brutal tech death with sci-fi themes remains a winning one, and they’ve followed up Exodromos with yet another instant classic. If you’re an alien overlord looking for a ripping soundtrack for your future planetary conquests, look no further than Krighsu.