Published May 01, 2019Since 1991, Ringworm have been innovating a severe and novel amalgamation of extreme thrash, sinister death metal and traditional Cleveland hardcore. Their legacy is often overlooked, when compared to fellow Clevo acts Integrity or One Life Crew, but throughout their catalogue of Victory and Relapse Records releases, the Human Furnace and his troupe of metal brutes have not dimmed their vicious musical fire.
The same can be said for their latest, Death Becomes My Voice; the verve on these 11 songs hardly withers, lurching along at such a hoarse, unwavering rate.
It seems to always be said about Ringworm, but not much has changed — vocalist James "Human Furnace" Bulloch continues to do inhumane things with his vocal cords, to the beat of occult tales and religious hypocrisy. Clocking in at nearly three decades of vocal work, no one has Bulloch's level of stability.
He sounds angrier than ever on the opening title track, which serves as a blueprint for Ringworm's second wind. "Carnivores" follows, just as fast and pissed off, welcoming some grooving Cleveland mosh towards its end. "The God of New Flesh" could hardly be considered a breaking interlude, as it is so much more realized than most hardcore album midway points.
Nothing is inherently wrong with Ringworm's latest effort. Their consistency is their strongest and weakest suit. Death Becomes My Voice would perhaps be best ingested pieced apart on a playlist than an outright full-album listen. Most loyal headbangers will pay no mind, but younger fans discovering Ringworm after tours with Harm's Way and Vein will likely notice the lack of variety in the music.
With guitar riffs this mincing and forceful ("Do Not Resuscitate") coupled with tastefully glistening solos ("I Want to Tear the World Apart"), there is very little to actually complain about with Death Becomes My Voice. Could it be Taylor Young's (Nails, Twitching Tongues) mix that breathed new life into Ringworm? The sonic negativity of cuts "Dead to Me" and "Acquiesce" is an impeccable compromise of speed and sludge, where the guitars sound chunky and drums are rock-solid evil, not overstated as modern metal often showcases. "Separate Realities" is where Furnace and company go for the throat. I pity the crowds who will experience a frantic pit for this song in coming years.
Ringworm are veterans of a loyal, pretension-free recipe; provocative thrash riffs, hair-whipping guitar solos and pulp-inducing hardcore breakdowns; 28 years later, Death Becomes My Voice has smashed their ceiling. (Relapse)