Reviews

Published on June 27th, 2016 | by Luke Frizon

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Review: Wombscape | 新世界標本 “New World Specimen”

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Photo: Ellie Photography

日本語版はこちら

“The beginning is the end.”

With this mournful declaration, the listener is guided into a growing mass of distorted drone as vocalist Ryo begins relating a nihilistic tale that evokes the ghosts of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s early horror.

Bleakness is intensified by twin voices and pensive guitar-work that shade track two, “捩れた「開放」が嘲笑う” [Twisted Liberation Ridicules You]. All of these elements in the beginning of WOMBSCAPE’s “新世界標本” [New World Specimen] combine to make this less of an album and more of a grim adventure.

Stabs of dissonant violence pitch the listener into the most sonically and emotionally crushing moments on the album

The listener is now a subject suspended in trepidation. This could go anywhere. It’s like being led by the hand into a dark cave with no knowledge or warning as to what slithering thing lurks within.

Then WOMBSCAPE disgorge a slab of filth with “真白な狂気” [Pure White Insanity], but even so, the bizarre off-kilter riffs are applied in a tasteful and dynamic manner, bringing to mind early-2000s works by Curl Up And Die and Botch. The vocals often take a back seat entirely to cruel melodies, only bursting in for the chaotic chorus.

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Photo: Ellie Photography

The overall mood at this stage is one of sporadic and unsettling rage, which adds credibility to the bad vibes emanating from New World Specimen.

The title track is a standout. Dry cadences that open the song are slowly overtaken by feedback, before it suddenly erupts. Stabs of dissonant violence pitch the listener into the most sonically and emotionally crushing moments on the entire album. Horrifying shrieks wrenched from Ryo’s throat carve freeform strokes over the hostile march of the guitars.

Sorrowfully and heavily, this sweeps into a passage that wouldn’t be out of place in the hands of doom heavyweights such as Warning or My Dying Bride. It’s at this moment in the song that the entire album’s mood shifts from unpredictable rage to quiet introspection. Riddled with grief, the track ends on a hesitant and distracted note.

A nostalgic interlude with eerie voices that shape-shift in the background leads into further narration of Ryo’s story. It’s heartfelt and intimate and cold all at once.

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Photo: Kenta Izumiya

At this point, the massive “正しい愛が正しい絶望に変わるまで” [Till Innocent Love Changes to Immaculate Despair] subtly edges in and presents itself as the highlight of New World Specimen.

Gorgeous, pure singing unfurls, reminiscent of Justin Broadrick’s Jesu. The kindness in the timbre of this voice is offset by hopelessness in the lyrics. This further complements the band’s entirely new approach to their craft.

Progressive, gently wandering, and tragic, it’s with Till Innocent Love … that WOMBSCAPE present their true sonic strength and beauty.

This enormous piece ends with their trademark anxiety-inducing discordant movements, jagged and reminiscent of the same unpleasant flavors that define acts such as Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. The coda fades into a Twilight Zone nightmare sequence, leaving the listener in silence and on edge.

The final movement “叙文” [Introduction] offers some closure with its hopeful melodies, as though WOMBSCAPE are striving to deliver a happy ending. This yearning is stripped bare by the narrator’s portentous whispering.

“A storm is coming.”

The sheer ambiguity and menace of this warning brought chills to my spine. Left anxious and silent in my dark room, I was quick to press play again.

New World Specimen is a 24-minute journey into the darkest depths of your mental climate. At its heaviest, it’s like being pelted with hailstones over an already freezing wind. At its most tender, it contains the promise of being an uplifting album — but this is a thin veil, shifting, and easily torn to reveal WOMBSCAPE’S true intent.

The sound of this album contains a type of darkness you haven’t experienced before, and I highly recommend it.

FFO: Spitfire, Curl Up And Die, Crippled Black Phoenix, You Fail Me-era Converge.

“新世界標本” [New World Specimen] is out now on Landscape Records via bandcamp.  Follow the band on Facebook for tour details and new release information.

Luke Frizon is vocalist for rising Melbourne hardcore stars Jack the Stripper, who are heading to Japan this year for a tour with legends of chaos NoLA. See Facebook for more information. 


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