Worm Shepherd – Ritual Hymns

We have reached the final chapter of our Deathcore Day run and what better way to finish it with the heaviest of the trio of records I have dived into.

Formed as recently as 2020, Massachusetts based Worm Shepherd are back with Ritual Hymns the follow up to their debut record In the Wake Ov Sol which was one of the strongest deathcore debuts in recent years and an album I listen to regularly. They play a blackened brand of deathcore with vocalist Devin Duarte covering both ends of the spectrum with his insanely talented voice. Add in some symphonics and the result is a veritable maelstrom of melody and brutality.

I caught the first single The River Ov Knives a few weeks back and was mesmerised by the symphonic components coupled with the ferocity of the vocal delivery. The dynamics between the underlying melodies and the venomous guttural style of Duarte are incredibly effective. Oh and then there is the breakdown, like a creature crawling out from the murky depths it grabs you and throws you around before completely ripping you apart – its pure bliss and will have you caught off guard as the blackened guitars riffs and blast beats come back for a devastating finale. A few days later the promo dropped and I couldn’t say yes quickly enough – I was sold already.

At only 9 tracks I thought I was in for a short and to the point deathcore record with the leadoff single being the centrepiece. I was wrong – 52 minutes in length with only two of the tracks at under five minutes. The result is a carefully constructed collection of grim stories of death, despair and tyranny. The imagery conjured is depressing and bleak but sprinkling with tremolo riffs and the warm symphonic ambience gives some semblance of hope to this desolate place.

As with all good black/blackened metal the record has several moments of transcendence where everything comes to a crescendo and feels like you have elevated above the blistering noise and in a state of stasis generally followed by a breakdown which quickly drags you back down to earth and pulls you into the dark underworld.

Melancholic, it is a very powerful record at times, the opener has this feeling in abundance during its near 7 minute run time. Lyrics such as “I still hear their cries carried in the wind, sorrows crawl in and out of my eyes and through my fingertips” re-enforce the sadness that carries the record. The band are wise enough to know when to bring in moments of calm or some soft clean vocal parts which add to the overall atmosphere of the record or just makes the intense sections more powerful.

A Bird in The Dusk starts with the sound of rain before launching into one of the heavier tracks with drummer Leo McClain going 100 MPH which will leave you astounded at the ferocity of his playing but also he adds in some drum fills and percussive sections which set it apart from regular break neck blast beats.

Given the recent success of Lorna Shore and the eyes being drawn towards the genre it would make sense for Worm Shepherd to get a raft of new fans once they deep dive and look at Lorna adjacent bands. Thankfully Worm Shepherd stand on their own two feet in that regard with some tremendous musicianship and songwriting. When this record reaches is high points namely the title track and the The River Ov Knives it really is top tier deathcore.

Unique Leader will release Ritual Hymns by Worm Shepherd on Friday 14th January. You can pick it up here.

Myles Davidson

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