Wormrot – Hiss

Singapore grindcore legends, Wormrot, dropped a bombshell in May when they announced that founding member and vocalist, Arif, would be retiring from the band. It’s a chaotic way to celebrate the group’s first album since 2016’s acclaimed, Voices LP, but there’s no reason to fear an underwhelming comeback record. Indeed, Hiss is their most imaginative and experimental work to date, and it’s just as uncompromising and extreme as anything before it.

On the surface, the twenty-one songs spread over the thirty-two minutes of audio carnage on Hiss are conventional grindcore. Many songs explode into smithereens before you can adjust your chair. Drummer, Vijesh Ghariwala, treats the album like a private drum clinic at an endorsement party for Zidjian. Like Pig Destroyer, they have no bassist. Arif’s departure will make it difficult – but not impossible – for them to replace him. One wonders if Greg Puciato would step into the role if he wasn’t so busy running a music label and writing music for The Black Queen, Killer be Killed and his own solo material. Arif’s hysterical voice extremities on opener ‘The Darkest Burden’ are the type of cathartic trauma therapy that tighten your neck muscles and make your fingers grasp at thin air. Of course, the music is faster than a TT race circuit and more violent than a revenge murder. Imagine John Zorn’s Naked City without the saxophones and with an added dose of Brutal Truth.

Guitarist, Rasyid Juraimi, used the last six years wisely to assess what else he could bring to the grindcore table. The answer is a stronger infusion of punk and old school thrash metal, not to mention a hint of dissonant black metal. ‘Broken Maze’ sees Arif experiment with asphyxiating death growls and a haunting double-tracked choir harmony. You can hear Nasum, but you can also detect the experimentation of Fuck the Facts in the mix. ‘When Talking Fails, It’s Time for Violence’ is not as straightforward as the title suggests. Here, they bludgeon through the blast beats and threaten to blow their guitar amps before settling into a crust punk assault. If you ever wanted a combination of post-hardcore with Cannibal Corpse, then, look no further than ‘Your Dystopian Hell’.

Melody is often non-existent in grindcore, but Wormrot dare to embrace it with sporadic vigour on Hiss. Rasyid’s guitars avoid the overreliance on power chords and fast tremolo patterns and often explore unorthodox fret shapes at the height of Vijesh’s frenetic drum work. ‘Sea of Disease’ could be Snapcase or Refused in its violent melodic rush, yet the band appease their die-hard fanbase towards the end with a nauseous eruption of grindcore. ‘Desolate Landscapes’ is close to the unique black metal/post-hardcore synergy that makes Harakiri for the Sky such an alluring listen. How do Wormrot glow with such unbridled fury? You can’t complain about the monotony with such a varied canvass of ideas. For every Napalm Death homage (‘Doomsayer’ and ‘Shattered Faith’), is an avant-garde blessing of lightning-fast guitar riffs and macabre violin flourishes. ‘Weeping Willow’ combines the violins with post-hardcore discordance, blast beats, and a Strapping Young Lad derangement. How can you grow tired of the onslaught when they squeeze so much into every song?

Though six years in the making, Hiss thrives on spontaneity and instinct. Arif’s final performance is his best on record, full of febrile roars and gluttonous death fantasies that no sane person would think to unleash on an audience. Of course, Wormrot are a grindcore band, which means they define themselves by their resilience and self-preservation skills. They’ll continue after this and should make more records, but will they top this effort in the future?



Release Date: 08/07/2022

Record Label: Earache Records

Standout tracks: Broken Maze, Your Dystopian Hell, Seizures, Desolate Landscapes, Weeping Willow

Suggested Further Listening: Pig Destroyer – Terrifyer (2004), Naked City – The Torture Garden (1990), Fuck the Facts – Pleine Noirceur (2020)