If you’re from the US (and even if you’re not), you probably tend to rag on the state of Florida for being…well, Florida, despite the fact that some of the finest music known to man has come from those swamps. “Reeking, foul humidity,” “arcane travesty of nature,” “suffocatingly heavy” and “monstrosities of the murk” are all ways that Florida has probably been described in the cultural vernacular. It also happens to describe Worm, the Florida-based death doom project that celebrates all things gloomy, swampy and yucky on their newest release Foreverglade. Get your waders on, folks.
Foreverglade feels like a return to form in terms of the reviews I’ve been writing: no high-minded concepts, no fancy artistic liberties, no experimentation, just stupid dumb guy death-doom that perfectly encapsulates the desolate, swampy nothingness that is the Sunshine State. Foreverglade is Worm’s third full length release, and, as always, most of the instrumental duties are handled by Phantom Slaughter (probably not a real name, but it is Florida, so…), except for a few guest solos and synths, and session drums by L. Dusk. On Foreverglade, Worm sprinkle just a touch of “black metal’s cemetery stench” into their crushingly heavy death-doom aesthetic, evoking “the grim beauty of the swamps as much as the veiled creeping horrors.” One thing is for certain: they definitely get an A+ for describing themselves, but everything they say is all true. The atmosphere is thick and brooding, and the riffs crawl along in the way that classic Florida death metal does when they bring back the nasty riff but slower, except this time it’s always the slow version. Listening to Foreverglade really feels like being in Florida, for worse but also for better: Worm grows best on the remains of those who came before, using what is already there but also growing and adapting into something unique.
For all the promises it has made, Foreverglade delivers on them with interest. Worm is one of the most obnoxiously heavy bands I’ve listened to in a long time, and they do a fantastic job of riding the line between death and doom. The songs plod along like traipsing through slime, but they never move so slowly that you’re bored by them. The guitar work is particularly laudable, with infinitely headbangable riff after riff flowing in and out of the gloomy, grimy atmosphere. The title track alone carries its fair share of dumb-guy riffs packed into a (comparatively) brief five minutes and change, and it can’t be understated how much the lead work on here absolutely slaps. The solo that opens “Empire of the Necromancers” sets the tone for the whole song beautifully while also being a technical tour de force. While that’s definitely enough to satisfy right there, where Worm shines a cut above the competition is where through their use of texture to create levity in the dense, funereal atmosphere. “Murk Above the Dark Moor” features somber bell chimes and chant vocals that really take the depression and misery to the bank, and “Cloaked in Nightwinds” throws in light organ and synth work alongside little melodies on clean guitars that pop out in the mix and break through the scum on the surface before retreating to the murky depths. It’s these little details that really make Foreverglade stand out above the death-doom crowd. They know how to cultivate an aesthetic.
The last time I went to Florida, I got stuck eating disappointing appetizers at an Applebee’s by the side of the airport, so yeah, I think I have an idea of how grim and oppressive Florida can be. Clearly Worm do too, and Foreverglade sees them poised to take the ooze-covered throne as the champions of the swamp. I checked out Foreverglade purely because it is a 20 Buck Spin release, and, wouldn’t you know it, it slaps. Go figure.