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Worship : Terranean Wake

Simply put: you need Worship's latest album, it doesn't need you.

If this was a movie, it would be something like a scene from the late Cretaceous: mist-wreathed conifers stark against a pale sunset, the nearby swamps and grasslands alive with a myriad tiny reptiles and mammals scavenging amidst nature's bounteous verdancy. Here and there, groups of small, predatory raptors chase down their unlucky prey, then pause, alert, as an all-but-unheard vibration grows slowly louder and closer. The ground shakes under colossal footfalls: those lesser creatures flee in terror at the approach of this enormous beast. Black against the growing darkness, it looms hugely, gaping maw open to bellow mournful defiance...

...and, just then, the Yucatan asteroid smashes into the Mexican coast and brings with it random, uncaring extinction.

Okay, so this isn't actually a movie, but as metaphors go it has some mileage. Worship are undeniably one of the big beasts prowling the cold swamps of Funeral Doom, unafraid of, and indifferent to, those others who share the same environment. And as all cinema-goers know, all the best monsters get some kind of a build-up scene for their grand entrance: you know what's coming, have seen it a thousand times before - and only the skill of the director stands between unconvincing cheesiness or iconic, terrifying revelation. That's particularly true of the Funeral genre, with its proscribed boundaries and limits to innovation: it takes a lot of skill to produce something that follows the established script and yet still drags you to the edge of your seat.

So, allow me to introduce you to the latest album, 'Terranean Wake', which does all that and more. Perhaps surprisingly, it's only Worship's second proper full-length, after the cult 'Last Tape Before Doomsday' demo release (later reissued as an album, in different formats), 2007's 'Dooom' and a whole fistful of splits with various other bands. This is a nicely-packaged set, laying out the concept in a quality sepia-tinted, moody, monochrome booklet of photos and lyrics. It's also a little peculiar to figure out: there are credits for the band, but underneath those, it states all instruments except drums were played by main man Daniel "The Doommonger" Pharos. As all compositions and lyrics - barring a credit to the band's late co-founder Fucked Up Mad Max - are also The Doommonger's work, it seems to have been pretty much a solo project.

That might explain the whole feel of completeness and technical purity that pervades this album: on that front, it is simply brilliant. Everything fits together and progresses onwards with a compulsive attention to detail, aided by a clear and vibrant production in which each instrument is distinct and pin-sharp, almost as if it were preordained. That isn't to say predictable, though: the rightness and perfection of the flow is experienced wherever the music leads, rather than pointing ahead to where it is going.

Where it actually leads is through four lengthy passages, titles linked as parts of a whole and driving relentlessly towards the final couplet: "Our Last Farewell, Into Oblivion". The album is in no hurry to get there: paced with an excruciating, anticipatory slowness measured by drumbeats so spread out that most die in the void before their successor begins. Winding through this percussive sparsity are mostly clean threads of guitar and underlying rumbles of bass. The guitarwork is awesome: by turns piercing, discordant, sustained, dissonant - a knifing masterclass in the crushing pain and lament that can be drawn from the instrument. Over and above that, largely-growled (but not excessively extreme) vocals in English, French and German deliver the story with a sense of controlled, often dispassionate bleakness. A few spoken/clean vocals during the first track and a keyboard outro in the final one complete the roster: by and large, this is not an album that wants or needs any further adornment to distract from the twin keystones of tempo and guitar.

There is nothing of compromise here, and no hint of cheer. It makes no concessions to the listener: it would appear that Doommonger's stated antipathy to commercial success (explored in the past Worship interviews on this site) continues. Like the monster above, it simply stands, impervious to the smaller creatures crushed underfoot and unheeding as to whether they appreciate its terrible grandeur. Knowing that, in the end, it doesn't matter anyway: when the asteroid (or any other extinction event of your choice) hits, everything dies, big beast and small alike. That is the inevitability it sets out to explore, and it succeeds more than admirably: a compelling, quintessential and emphatic distillation of the pure Funeral spirit laid down with the utmost proficiency and individuality.

Simply put: you need this album. It doesn't need you.

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Reviewer's rating: 10/10


Tracklist :
1. Terranean Wake I - Tide Of Terminus
2. Terranean Wake II - The Second Coming Apart
3. Terranean Wake III - Fear Is My Temple
4. Terranean Wake IV - End Of An Aeviturne

Duration : Approx. 55 minutes

Visit the Worship bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-12-10 by Mike Liassides
Hate Your Guts Records
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