‘Wrath of the Wilds’, Wormlight‘s debut full-length album, is a delicious cacophony of unearthly delights the likes of which have rarely been heard since the mid-’90s heyday of fellow Swedish melodic-death titans such as Dissection, Dawn, and Necrophobic. While the melodic-death metal scene became increasingly watered down post-’00s and a strong tendency to favour offshoots of bands such as In Flames prevailed, in some dark recessed corner of Sweden, the blackened glorious flame was kept alight and here, again, unleashed.
A concept album of sorts, each song on ‘Wrath of the Wilds’ is crafted as the embodiment of a different creature from ancient Scandinavian folklore, and thereby, each takes on its own malicious qualities to invoke the personality of the entity it portrays. Torrential tremolo picked riffs wraith and slither over a relentless blast beat battery that only lets up to stomp out accented riffs before diving back into a molten river bereft as it flows from its malevolent origins (check out title track, Wrath of the Wilds). Plentiful melodic leads and hooks pierce deep the nerves of nostalgia, drawing from a well of mid-’90s blackened death metal, gliding effortlessly over the ugliness of the frenetic riffing coursing below (see the glorious On Tattered Wings and the fantastic Feast of the Mountain Kin as evidence). Although blast beats are in no short supply here it is important to highlight they are not overdone, as was all too common during the ’90s (for example, excellent albums such as Sacramentum’s ‘Far Away from the Sun’ were marred by this practice during the scene’s infancy). ‘Wrath of the Wilds’ boasts a dynamic production quality with enough space for the music to breathe and sound great on your stereo but keeps the album from the hands of over-production.
With such a classic Swedish blackened melodic death metal sound some may be tempted to cite albums such as ‘Wrath of the Wilds’ to be derivative of its predecessors. I would charge that they are no more so than each of us are derivative of our own mothers and fathers, thus, should we not take their place in time what would become of our strain? The same can, I believe, be said here of Wormlight. Yes, they hold a blackened torch to the 2018 skyline just as their forefathers in Dissection, Sacramentum, et. al. did to the 1995 skies but should that torch not be kept alight? The bottom line here is that this album is fantastic from start to finish. It’s classic and new, at once making it well worth the listen by fans from the original legions or those who have yet to discover the magic of this subgenre.
While others – and certainly esteemed underground royalty – have plowed this field before, perhaps the seeds buried in the furrow they cut are now coming to germination with bands such as Wormlight. ‘Wrath of the Wilds’ is a vicious, yet enduring, beast of an album berating and bludgeoning in one moment only to excite and inspire in the next with the sweetness of its intoxicating blackened melodies. There is not a note nor song out of place (even the intro to the closing track bears relevance), and, despite the reasonable length of each proper track, it’s effortless to stay engaged. Any band that can release as solid a release as ‘Wrath of the Wilds’ at any point in their career, can, and should be, hailed for their accomplishment. Let’s hope with fresh bands such as Wormlight and classics such as Necrophobic releasing excellent new releases in 2018 that capture the near-forgotten spirit of the mid-’90s melodic death metal underground, that those yearning for this music’s return may experience a renaissance of sorts.