When comparing music to movies, it is often stated that metal is most comparable to horror. Both rely heavily on the realm of shock value, drawing in adrenaline junkies who wish to be subjected to the truly uncomfortable. And of course, there are your slow burn horror movies and metal bands that like to create an atmosphere to fuel your terror. Then there are those who do not care much for the long lasting scare so much as they do about the initial impact. These are the slasher movies of each genre, movies that revel in their ability to cause as much gore and destruction as possible in their allotted hour and a half time slot. At the center of all these slasher movies is the unstoppable juggernaut of a villain who every viewer secretly roots for as they disembody teenagers who simply want to camp and have promiscuous sex.
In many ways, Ringworm comes as this central star of the slasher subgenre. Their music is rough, extremely unforgiving, and feels often as if there is nothing to grab onto beyond the surface level. They are senseless killing machines hell bent on pummeling the listener with a barrage of thrash influenced metalcore. And, for twenty years, this has been extremely successful for them. The band, much like the slasher subgenre of horror movies, has found a winning formula and comfortably sits in their role as kings of it. However, one also has to be careful as acknowledging a lack of sonic expansion sometimes suggests redundancy.
In the case of Ringworm this is simply not true though. Despite a fairly down-pat formula, the band consistently manages to tweak their formula ever so slightly, showing that, while an older band, they manage to never live simply off of their legacy. One of the newest evil additions to Ringworm’s catalog shows this especially well as “Shades of Blue” has the band slowing down a bit. It’s not a huge change, and Ringworm has definitely tread in the territory before, and slowing down the music certainly isn’t a huge stylistic change anyways, but it is all about how they sell it. And boy do they ever sell it. The double guitar attack gives the song an epic feel, driving home this grand concept of the goddess of death and allowing the song to give the lyrics character. The entire thing creates a truly delicious atmosphere of horror in the best way possible, transporting the listener back to terrified nights spent sneaking in horror movies at a young age. To put it simply the song, while truly evil in the most devious way, is also just fun.
And fun is no insult or dig at the band either. If anything many have forgot that in the grand scheme of punk and metal, genres which are supposed to allow complete stylistic freedom, that fun is allowed. Too often now bands are written off as simply being “cheesy” when their sound does not revolve around the brooding and experimental to the point that Edgar Allen Poe would even tell them to ease it up a bit. So, in this now often melodramatic scene, it is refreshing to hear a band who has simply had fun for 20 years still having fun. The riffs on every song are huge, especially album opener “Snake Church”, where it feels as if you are not only encouraged to head bang, but forced into it. Then there are tracks like “Innocent Blood” and “The Apparition” that both provide absolutely monster riffs before settling into easily head bang-able, easily mosh-able rhymthic sections.
Are there any bizarre time signatures or otherwise overly exaggerated signs of the band’s music ability? No. Is there some deep poetic meaning behind any of it? Not really, no. But despite all of this it is music that the band clearly enjoys making which ultimately trumps all of that. Ringworm proves that in the grand scheme of music, not every artist needs to strive to be the next innovative tour-de-force in order to remain relevant or exciting. They sit comfortably in their role as true metalcore kings and embrace all the cliches and tropes with wide open arms, but always with their own spin. The genre may have moved towards every band wanting to be a Converge rip off, true indie horror films earning academy awards, but Ringworm remains the slasher, finding a summer camp full of those nerds somewhere and gloriously mutilating them in the most over the top ways. Once again with Snake Church, Ringworm reclaim their throne as kings of both thrash and metalcore, providing the listener with a new, unique listening experience that satisfies the slasher villain soul in us all.