The title track begins, and everyone's head collectively explodes. This is hardcore/metallic punk group Ringworm from Cleveland. I am not at all familiar with this group, but Snake Church is their 8th (!) full length album. You'd think a band in this style would run out of steam pretty quick, but damned if they don't have the energy of a bands half their age. 25 years of chaotic live shows, if anything, has only made them angrier, heavier, and more ready than ever to kick you in the teeth. With the help of Ben Schigel producing (Chimaira, ZAO) and mastering by Brad Boatright (Nails, Xibalba, Black Breath), you should know this is going to be LOUD.
It all starts with the D-Beat. If you could boil down the spirit of true punk rock into one defining element, it would be this. Ringworm are no strangers to this fact and have no qualms with putting the drums front and center. It is the wrecking ball unleashed; now in freefall with no hope of stopping it. Brick will splinter, concrete reduced to a fine mist. Next come the guitars. The leads relentlessly rip through power chords and thrashy riffs in perfect time with their bass guitar counterparts threatening to bring the whole house down. No need for anything fancy, just pure adrenaline injected straight into the pit. There are a few sludgier moments to add to the pacing ("Shades of Blue"), but Snake Church is mostly a freight train.
As for the vocals: perfection. I think that it's very easy to disregard hardcore screaming as something that seems very easy to do, but then I think about all of the crap out there. It is NOT something just anyone can really pull off. Everyone can scream, but not everyone can do it with intention. This guy knows that it takes more that just volume; there is a certain level of finesse. And after years with the band, he has clearly honed his craft. One can always improve, but there's a certain inflection to begin with that just comes from the right breeding. Two ugly misfits creating just the right mixture of bodily fluids to create a hellspawn born to belt it out.
At the end of the day, I am very happy to blair this from my shitty car speakers until they rattle loose. The looks from the other drivers in traffic are always priceless. I just need to make sure to watch the odometer, because Ringworm makes me want to floor it by default. This is hardcore music with energy, spirit, and vitality. Furthermore, in the process of infusing the listener with a need to maim, they stumble into quite a few bitchin' hooks ("The Black Light Of A Living Ghost," "The Razor And The Knife," etc.). Great stuff. Even Henry Rollins might want some earplugs for this one. Snake Church drops this Friday through Relapse Records.