Ringworm – “Death Becomes My Voice” (Relapse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Along with Integrity and Earth Crisis, Ringworm have been resonating their metallic hardcore rock n roll around Cleveland for over 30 years. Formed in 1991 and featuring the vocal talents of one James ‘Human Furnace’ Bulloch (aka ‘HF’), Ringworm made immediate impact but HF’s concentration on his tattooing and artistry soon saw the band take something of a hiatus with the other members joining Integrity. 10 years would pass before HF would return, but he did and with a vengeance on “Birth Is Pain”, setting the band on a new course of albums and touring over the next decade with Hatebreed, Converge, Goatwhore, Napalm Death, Voivod and Eyehategod before signing to Relapse in 2013. Now comes album number 8 and continues the savage onslaught befitting Ringworm’s legacy of 11 tracks of visceral, violent aggression albeit fashioned with style in a raw but discernible sound thanks to Taylor Young’s (Nails, Twitching Tongues, Cannabis Corpse) mixing. “Death Becomes My Voice” is explosive in every sense as HF retains every aspect of his hoarseness and hatred, while underground veterans Matt Sorg (Charred Walls Of The Damned, Holy Ghost etc etc) and Ed Stephens (Shok Paris, Destructor, Abdullah, etc etc) add their talent and experience honed over the years to ensure the chaos and intensity don’t quite run into reckless abandonment, which makes this album not just one mean mutha, but accessible and dare I say it, catchy throughout. Screaming to lung bursting levels on title track opener ‘Death Becomes My Voice’, HF’s explosive delivery is matched by Ryan Steigerwald’s (Crowtalker) stampeding drums while the guitars of Sorg and Mark Witherspoon (From the Hellmouth, Solipsist, Arecibo) mix it up devilishly from Slayer-esque licks to wailing heavy metal solos in the catchy carnage. With Stephens’s bass fast shredding on ‘Carnivores’, HF’s manic roars take it to the max as the cool grooves and subtle warbles make this song way more catchy than just a blitzing pit stormer (which of course it is too) before closing off hauntingly to some occult whispers – mmm delicious! Closing with ‘Final Division’, it’s a total blitzkrieg as the guitars and bass joust for prominence in between slower headbanging passages powered by huge grooves, trippy solos and deep melodies while HF’s screaming frenzy is arranged superbly around it all. Threatening in its furore but even more menacing in its professionalism, “Death Becomes My Voice” is Ringworm’s ascension to take the world by force again.