Forming in 2014 Belgian quartet Oldd Wvrms have bashed out two E.P.s and two full length collections in their short life. Their third “Codex Tenebres” is thunderous fist of darkly atmospheric instrumentals that draw from sludge, doom, post rock and a smearing of black metal.
From the opening drums of Tenebres the production is astonishingly clear. Each beat and cymbal hit on the album resonates like a section in a million piece jigsaw puzzle. Nothing is obscured yet each instrument flows naturally into its companion with no pesky voice allowed anywhere near to muddy the waters. There is an otherworldliness about Oldd Wvrms. They paint a scene that manages to be bleak yet filled with foliage, earthly yet transcendent. Dirty sludgy riffs with green shoots firing waxen pollen into space. There is a meditative non drug induced trip to be found within the grooves of this album.
“A l’or, aux ombres et aux abimes” has a wedge of prog metal in it with some of Steven Wilson’s Porcupine needles sticking through the riffs and bars. Which is a surprise as it begins with gigantic spacey sludge riffs with a tinge of icy Nordic BM. Oldd Wvrms do not stick to one medium , preferring to blend on the palette before attacking the canvas.
“Misere & Corde” translate to “Poor and Ropes” and it is beautiful and melancholic as the title suggests. Sombre doom passages intertwine with swirling drone, black metal leads and stirring riffs. A true sonic collage underpinned by drums which segue seamlessly from light textured jazz style to powerful driving rock.
“La vallee des tombes” is a Latin party number filled with mariachi rhythms. Made you look made you stare etc etc. It is, as the title suggests a funereal delightful dirge. Imagine The Cure’s Faith album beefed up with dirty riffs and played on half speed. All cats are putrefied not grey. This is a piece of music so sad and depressing that it forces a smile. Fans of Paradise Lost will cast a backwards glance and be drawn in.
The final piece “Fleau est son ame” is gargantuan. At over 15 minutes in length it grows from a gentle bud which blooms into an undulating vine covered in thorns and dark fruit. Gothic mysticism weaves throughout its length but the musicians never seem to disappear up their own backsides and there is no sense of out musoing each other.
This album has surprised me. I am not sure what I expected but it certainly wasn’t the trip that it took me on. If you are looking for an outlet for your own creativity whether it be writing, painting or moulding tiny men out of your own ear wax this opus is the muse you need.
(9/10 Matt Mason)