Imagine my surprise upon opening my first batch of promos from The Metal Observer only to find the sophomore album from Wellingborough’s very own Metal warriors, GUTWORM, nestled within. These maniacs have been savaging necks and brutalising eardrums in my hometown non-stop over the last couple of years, and are the undisputed jewel in the crown of our fledgling local Metal scene. During their short existence they’ve played more shows than most bands do in their entire lifetime, and their impressive live chops have netted them support slots on tours alongside such heavyweights as DECAPITATED and NILE. Bizarrely, despite their success, the band has remained one of the UK’s most underrated, and underappreciated Death Metal bands. Hopefully, that will all change with the release of “Disfigured Narcissus”, a stunning slab of modern Death/Grind, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt these local-boys-done-good are the real deal.
GUTWORM’s sound comprises a lot of influences, and as such is hellishly difficult to pin down. The band deals primarily in pummelling Death/Grind (emphasis on the Death), with a slightly blackened edge, but they’re not averse to throwing in the odd bit of galloping, groovy thrash just to mix things up. As far as Death/Grind bands go they possess a rather unique sound; modern without sounding overly slick or polished, and brutal but with a knack for melody and creating memorable compositions. They don’t exactly bring anything new to the table, but their lethal song craft coupled with some inventive musicianship and a thundering production lift them well above the norm.
Opening cut “Intro (Silence)” begins with a crunchy, driving riff accompanied by an increasingly eerie series of dissonant, wailing chords before climaxing with a crushing off-time riff, complete with acoustic guitars and even a twinkling of piano. It’s an unexpected inclusion, but coalesces nicely into first track proper “My First Loving Enemy”, a speedy little number that, after the relative calm of the intro, lays waste to the listener with its precise rhythms and unrelenting staccato blasts. Up next is the title, and in my opinion best, track, which takes a completely different direction with its sludgy, almost Doom-like pace. Just when you think the band are going to doom it out for the duration, from nowhere comes this jaw dropping riff that’s both brutal and catchy as hell. You know, the kind of riff CANNIBAL CORPSE wishes they still knew how to write. From there the rest of the album pretty much follows suit, alternating between speed-addled bursts of blistering Grind and downtuned, monstrous Death Metal.
Reinvent the wheel it does not, but “Disfigured Narcissus” is an extremely entertaining album, and in all honesty I can find very little negative to say about it. I won’t insult your intelligence and pretend there’s anything here your average Death Metal fan hasn’t heard before, but rarely will you hear it done better and certainly not with this much song writing savvy. Recent Relapse signees MAN MUST DIE might be riding high on the crest of the hype-machine, but it’s GUTWORM who have stepped up to the plate and delivered, arguably, one of the finest slices of Death Metal to come from our merry ole’ island this year.
(Online September 13, 2007)