As a man used to taking a musical sledgehammer to the eardrums, not only as a member of enduring British extreme metal institution Napalm Death, guitarist John Cooke has also battered listeners with Malevolent Creation, Venomous Concept and Corrupt Moral Altar over the last ten years, proving he’s a man who knows how to make powerful music.
Much like his bandmate Shane Embury, Cooke has used the 18-month downtime caused by the global pandemic to turn his attention to his love of experimental electronic music, exploring new concepts and sounds that wouldn’t fit with the Napalm Death aesthetic.
Unlike Embury’s Dark Sky Burial project, Lair Of The White Worm is an altogether more terrifying prospect. More akin to Ministry at their most ferocious and Godflesh at their snarling best, the six track EP is a visceral howl of oppressive industrial noise that sees the six-stringer joined by Corrupt Moral Altar bandmates Tom Dring, who helped bring the project together at his Vagrant Studios, and Chris Reese who provided vocals on Virtu.
Beginning with the cold mechanised clank of Virtu, Reese’s tortured howl is backed by stuttering, distorted, ominous low-fi samples and thick industrial rhythms. Reminiscent of classic Godflesh mechanised churn and clanking, the track pulses with terrifying menace.
Isolation follows with more bludgeoning, dizzying effects and swirling samples that sounds a bit like Corrosion from Ministry’s incredible Psalm 69 album. Here Cooke’s vocals and the stripped, relentless pounding is discordant and suffocatingly intense. Almost a continuation of the first track in terms of pacing and style, it turns the screw on the atmosphere which is quite the opposite to Dark Sky Burial’s ethereal vibe. Stylistically Cooke may be exploring other mediums, but the gut reaction shares a common bond with his work elsewhere.
Liar Of The White Worm bring old school industrial with little fanfare, no niceties, and no pandering to any pretension…
Bankrupt Morality steps up the path and adds in layers of different sounding noises to add more sonic battering. The vocals change from a guttural shout to a leering, sneering punk like warning that almost sound like some of the late Keith Flint’s work with The Prodigy as the sound starts to expand. Whilst not allowing the listener a moment of relief, it also gives way to new textures and a breakout from the relentless pace.
The short interlude of er, Into Ludes slows the pace to a crawl, full of nightmarish sounds before Misery Box finally offers the listener some relief amongst the stark sound of pistons and the sampled Hunter S Thompson quote of ‘Too weird to live, too rare to die’ by introducing some rare moments of melody. Sombre and like a funeral procession, even in this relative moment of calm, there’s a search and a yearning that provides no comfort.
The closing track Waster is also mournful and melodic. Drone effect heavy, there are flashes of squealing guitar accents and choral like sung melodies that showcase an expanded vocal range as Cooke intones the title track and backs it up with screams that claw at your soul. Complex and understated, Lair… close out the EP with the finest composition on offer that almost gives a cathartic sign of relief after the pressure cooker of the first five tracks.
Liar Of The White Worm bring old school industrial with little fanfare, no niceties, and no pandering to any pretension. This is a return to the stark and harsh realities of paranoia in the face of a dystopian world, cold and unforgiving. There is little hope offered and fewer answers.
Similarly, nothing on this debut EP is going to change the genre, but as a fresh set of tunes, fans of Godflesh, Ministry, Killing Joke and even Author & Punisher this will more than satisfy your appetite and have you salivating for a full-length release.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden