The Many Atmospheres of Worm Ouroboros

Me likey.As over the course of this decade San Francisco has become a hotbed of neo-artsy metal, it’s not surprising that the aughts should end with a release like the Profound Lore debut from the trio Worm Ouroboros. It’s been called chamber metal because of its classical influences and operatic vocals, but over these nine mostly extended tracks there are a wide variety of styles and sounds, mostly mellow in execution, but periodically picking up into a post-doom heaviness that’s notable in its grace and flow.

Profound Lore followers will recognize bassist/vocalist Lorraine Rath (also responsible for the album artwork) from Amber Asylum, and joined in Worm Ouroboros by guitarist/vocalist Jessica Way and drummer Justin Green (both World Eater), Rath shines in both her principle roles. Perhaps it’s because of the relative minimalism of what’s happening on the record, but with a song like “Goldeneye,” her bass and Way’s guitar offset each other with a jazzy perfection, feedback toward the end acting as a subdued alarm, while Green adds cymbal accents. This is a chemistry that plays out for most of Worm Ouroboros, across material more straightforward like “Falling Moon” or more ambient like “Brittle Heart.”

Hey guys, what're you doing down there? (Photo by Daryl Darko)At just over 11 minutes, “Riverbed” is an immediate highlight, blending the band’s heavier side with some of its most quiet moments — and some flute for good measure. Rath and Way’s vocals by now have proved capable of accomplishing just about anything they set out to do, slowly unrolling poetic lyrics such as, “All your words spill to the sea/Whispering, promise impossible things.” Without reading along to the liner notes, though, it’s just as easy to lose yourself in the vocal melodies along with the instrumentation and to be taken by the whole experience of the album. I’ll fall short of calling their sound hypnotic because of the repetitive connotations of the word (though there are certainly repetitive aspects at play here), but Worm Ouroboros have a unique ability to capture and render passive their audience. Wherever this record wants to bring me, I’m ready to go.

Worm Ouroboros won’t be for everyone; many will either get lost in the ambience or consider it too self-indulgent for a proper listening experience — and, admittedly, it does require a certain art gallery posture — but imbibed with an open mind, this self-titled has even more to offer across multiple hearings than it first appears. It is a rich, textural offering marked with dynamic atmospheres that calls to mind San Francisco’s psychedelic heritage but beats a path entirely its own. Highly recommended for anyone who actually wants something different.

Worm Ouroboros on MySpace

Profound Lore

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4 Responses to “The Many Atmospheres of Worm Ouroboros”

  1. Aesop Dekker says:

    One of the best albums of the year.

  2. […] to be confused with the recently-reviewed Worm Ouroboros, or any of the myriad other bands out there who spell that self-munching serpent’s name in […]

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  4. […] reading: The Obelisk » Blog Archive » The Many Atmospheres of Worm Ouroboros. (Very special thanks to JJ Koczan for the kind […]

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