The sound of faint bells whispers on the breeze as you slowly make your way along the barely trodden path, lining the frosty crevice. As you gaze down into its hidden depths, the sound of entrancing, veiled melodies dances upon cold drafts of air that exhale out of the frigid gash in the mountainside. As your eyes drift you notice a crudely crafted stair making its way down the nearest side of the opening. Although something warns you not to follow, you somehow are drawn by the dark sounds encased deep within these ancient walls. Grabbing your torch, you carefully make your way down into the inky blackness. As you descend all colour disappears, all except blue, a blue so dark that it may as well be black. And yet you can feel no fear, so you descend further, and further, into the blue nothing.
This EP spoke to me on so many levels, as may be evident by my dramatic narrative opening. When a record such as this conjures up so many images and feelings I feel I have no option but to express my thoughts in prose, even if none of you wants that.
Worm started as a one-man band from Florida, USA. It was started by Phantom Slaughter who up until 2016 recorded everything in the band. On the band’s 2017 and 2018 album Phantom Slaughter was joined by Equimanthorn who seems to have taken on the role of bassist and drummer. In 2021, on the band’s most acclaimed record to date, Foreverglade, the band added Nihilistic Manifesto to the lineup who took on lead guitar and additional guitar duties, Equimanthorn moved on to playing only additional synths and Phantom Slaughter took back playing bass and the majority of synths. The drums on that album were played by session artist L. Dusk. The newest EP Bluenothing Phantom Slaughter continues to play the guitar, bass, and synths and performs vocals while new face, Wroth Septentrion, joins in on guitars and I quote “necromantic shred”. Nihilistic Manifesto returns to play some guitars on the track “Shadowside Kingdom”. L. Dusk returns to play session drums while a few other sessions add parts to other tracks.
I mainly wrote that for myself as I was trying to track the intricate member changes across the year’s Worm has existed. Hopefully, all my info is correct as I had to do some jumping between various sources to find it but corrections are welcome. So while it is clear Phantom Slaughter is the main driving force behind the band there have been many musicians contributing to this mammoth of a band over the years.
So now, to talk about the EP in question. Bluenothing is nothing short of a masterpiece in my eyes. The short recording is a complex interweaving of black, death, and doom metal all in various doses and mixtures. The one thing that really sold me on this album is the absolutely crotch-melting solos that feature prominently throughout. I am a guitar nerd and good guitar solos always get me going but to have all these elements so amazingly constructed within one record is my dream. Overall the album is bleak in tone, but there are moments of absolution within that darkness but don’t expect too many. The production on the album is perfect for this style of music, generally, the textures are murky and all blend into a big wall of sound. All except for the lead guitar which is crisp and cuts through the mix but surprisingly doesn’t stand much as much in contrast to the washed-out rhythm tones. The mastering does not seem to use excess amounts of compression giving the music a natural quality. I also really love the huge reverb on the drums.
The first two tracks of the album are actually tracks recorded for their previous full-length Foreverglade but were left off the record. These tracks have since had lead guitar added by Wroth Septentrion which explains the higher fidelity of the guitar lead on these tracks. It by no means takes away from the music but now the tonal difference makes more sense. The third track on the album is a brief interlude track, a dungeon synth-style piece with some super amazing guitar shredding. Although I call it an interlude I listen to this track every time because the lead is just so boss. The final track ‘Shadowside Kingdom’ takes a slightly different approach and is more symphonic black metal than anything. The band proclaims that it is “simply one of the best symphonic Black Metal tracks since the style’s late 90’s apex” and although I do like this track, I would consider this statement a bold one. The track has a slightly different production quality, as expected since it was recorded recently unlike the first two but doesn’t stand out as a completely different band.
The first track is the album’s namesake and begins with the sound of bells and wind; sorrowful guitar melodies float borne on a bed of reverb. This sense of limbo is soon abated as the rest of the instruments enter dramatically, the sound dense, the mood morose. This start is pretty much straight-up funeral doom however the guitars that come next blow everything out of the water. The lead is just the absolute best, and gives the music a level of epicness that is unprecedented; the scale run at 1:28 gets me every time. Just before the vocals enter it sounds like the mix behind the lead distorts (or maybe just the floor tom) but I only noticed that after many listens, so it is not too audible and the guitar solo hides it well. The solo is short but not too short as to be a tease, and opens the way for the vocals. The first exclamation is pained, the sound of which hangs in the air as the reverb slowly carries it away. The reverbs on this album are generally awesome. The vocals then alternate between a cookie-monster growl and a high-pitched black metal snarl. The keys layering an aura of mystery into the soundscape. Bells are heard again as the music shifts gears with accents and drum fills take centerstage. We then move into a dirty death metal groove with some mystifying lead melodies blending with the unhinged vocals. The keys add a lot to the overall texture of the music. They are a little cheesy in their own way but for some reason, it does not take away from the serious atmosphere of the music, at least not for me.
From four minutes the pass picks up briefly before returning to more cosmic death metal riffs. This part is psychedelic yet terrifying, like a night terror combined with psilocybin and cough syrup. At 5:10 we return to my favourite section of the song. Long sustained chords that seem to sound from a misty cliffside across the ocean. It’s so sad, yet so beautiful. These sections always cause a feeling of nostalgia to well up in my throat. Although very different in many other ways the mood reminds me of the band Warning just for the level of despair encased within the sound. The distant vocals are a cry of despair that wafts up from a sulfurous vent in the ground, the cry of a human or a devil. All this culminates in yet another great guitar solo.
At 7:04 the texture drops out completely leaving the sound of wind and clean guitar. Faint whispers can be heard before the band launches into a humongously epic riff followed by, you guessed it, another epic solo. The song then returns to one of the earlier death metal-style riffs and when the lead kicks in you instantly know that this guy’s floor is clean as fuck because his sweeping is off the charts. The song dips in texture again before returning to more funeral doom but this time we get some clean chanting in the background. The whole sound is perfect. This song as a whole just hits every note for me, I can’t get enough.
Track two is a bit shorter, well, almost half the length. “Centuries of Ooze II” begins with ominous church organs before we dive once again into “the most depressing things you have ever heard volume 2” (trademarked by the way). The track in many ways is more of the same. I say this often in my reviews but it means different things depending on the album. In this case, when “the same thing”, is “the best thing ever” then it’s a good thing. Although I do love a good progressive album that shifts between sounds when an act hits the spot like this I can’t help but want more of that. My favourite part of the track is from 4:27 when everything drops out and we get this killer doomy riff. This riff slowly builds, adding layers, and the lead harmonies that eventually build on top are so compelling. We are then hit with some more great clean vocals and a subtle layer of acoustic guitar can be heard as the song closes out.
Track 3, “Invoking the Dragonmoon” is a track I love but it’s hard to describe it as anything but dungeon synth with guitar solos. Unlike a lot of shorter filler songs on albums and EPs, I end up listening to this every time, though I understand that it might not be everyone’s vibe.
The final track is one of the newest recordings by the band. It immediately has a higher fidelity sound than the first two tracks. The intro is acoustic with synths and wind sounds, it is dark and alluring, particularly the ‘vocal’ synth patch. The vocals that enter are similar to the chanted clean vocals heard throughout the album, a distant yet warm sound. This song does not have any doom to it, it’s pretty much straight-up symphonic black metal as the band states. Although aesthetically it is different from the other songs the mood is consistent. At 2:49 we get some awesome acoustic guitar shred before launching into what might be the first blast beat of the EP. How refreshing it is to write that. Unfortunately, that is the last positive thing I will write about this song. Although nothing is wrong with it and in fact I enjoy the track, it is not that unique. It feels less unique than the other songs on the album, fitting neatly into the symphonic black metal mould rather than feeling uniquely Worm. Probably not the best track of its type I have ever heard.
With that said I still highly rate this EP, I think everyone should listen to it. I am very excited to dive into Foreverglade which was the band’s previous full-length and look forward to any future releases from the band.
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