ALBUM REVIEW: WVRM’s “Colony Collapse” brings a powerful message in the midst of chaos

I have visited Greenville, South Carolina twice now (as my best friend and podcast co-host resides there) and have seen only a glimpse of what the city has to offer. While the area seems to be booming in popularity and growing in overall appeal to the average citizen, one thing that the city in the upstate does not carry is a music scene, especially for heavier artists. After the closing of The Firmament, a popular venue that opened in March 2018, many heavy metal acts took their talents to the in-state city Columbia, or up into Charlotte, North Carolina, in hopes of finding success there. One of the few acts that have made a name for themselves that came out of Greenville’s lacking musical community is WVRM, a four-piece grindcore band that released three splits, four extended plays, and two full-lengths before 2020. With the unwavering work ethic employed throughout the band’s career, new studio album Colony Collapse (set to release this Friday) culminates the band’s previous musical elements with new, more nuanced influences to create an extreme metal record that is a must-listen for all fans of heavy music.

 

“Walled Slum City” opens the record with guitar dissonance and a haunting message from vocalist Ian Nix. Lyrics such as “Think of me as the wreckage / And our great nostalgia, the roaring ambulance” highlight Nix’s ability to portray hatred and despair in such a short amount of time. “War Promise//Secessionville” follows it, clocking in at thirty-five seconds and filling the atmosphere with gloom and dread via the work of guitarist Derick Caperton and drummer Brett Terrapin. “Shining Path” continues the work of the fast-paced, frenetic onslaught that has been delivered to the listener at this point, and showcases more of the band’s rhythmic side towards the back half of the song, with threatening chugs setting the pace and bringing a slight sense of relief to the music’s frenzied tempo.

 

“Anti-Democracy//Locust Breath” starts off with the same doom-esque chugs hinted at in “Shining Path” that leads into Nix’s shrieking vocal delivery. The drumming in this particular song is a highlight, as the multiple time changes really bring the precision of the band into perspective – a lot is happening, and everyone is in sync with each other to create this cacophony of sound. “Black Flag Towards Sodom (Me Ne Frego)” clocks in at a little over one minute and succeeds in having some of the best lyrics of the year. Barked phrases like “Our souls ablaze in sonic monument / In hatred of this failed nation” exemplify the message that the band has expressed in support of Colony Collapse: renouncing the South’s antiquated belief of honoring the Confederacy in light of their actions. “Tank Reaper” stays with a mostly guttural-vocal approach for the first half of the song, but not without some absolutely throat-shredding yells; the song reaches a climax of a breakdown that is sure to be a crowd killer at future shows.

 

“Hands That Bear the Hive” is another fast-paced, feverish track, but this specific song was over by the time I finished the previous sentence. It did not have enough time to really get going, but still displayed the band’s ability to create a haunting sound in thirty-three seconds. “Thorn Palace” may be the most structured song on the album (to casual music listeners) and has a riff that is impossible to bang your head to. Interspersed between a passage of spoken word, a lot of doom metal influence can be seen in the second half of this song in particular. “My F%!king Dixie (The New South)” continues that slight doom-grind trend, meshing the two genres together very coherently. “Years of Lead” uses a lot of feedback to create another haunting atmosphere (WVRM has made about four different atmospheres that sound different at this point in the record).

 

“Violet Nuclear” starts with the lyrics “You and I hand in hand in the mushroom cloud”, which is a powerful statement towards the band’s view of decay and nihilism, and continues on a downward spiral before ending in dissonance. “Furious Movement/The Burning Tower” was a track that did not do much for me personally, but it continues the trend of minute-long songs and packing as much punch as possible. The title track “Colony Collapse” is nothing but discordance and echoes as Nix laments with a repeating mantra of “she dreams / as she waits for me”; the amount of uneasiness in this song amplifies towards the end as sounds of looping feedback and grating amounts of atonality pierce the audial surface. The ending of the album, “Angel of Assassination” brings everything that WVRM has worked towards on CC to the forefront of the album. Starting with subdued guitar and brooding sounds buried in the mix, the track erupts into all-out insanity; everyone is at their best performance here and the album ends just as abruptly as it started.

 

My first thought after finishing this album is that I need to lie down. It is one of the most brutal albums I have ever listened to, but before it is disregarded for being an extreme metal album (it is already hard getting people into heavy alternative rock), one look at the lyrical content of this record should intrigue the mind. This is not a record of mindless chaos; Colony Collapse is a record that is indicative of the world as it is today: chaotic, cynical, hateful, and full of repudiation. As someone who is getting into grindcore but does not understand the finer aspects of it, I cannot help but feel this can be seen as a gateway album. For a city that lacks in heavy musical talent, we should consider ourselves lucky that the most passionate made it out to tell their story. Who knows? Hopefully, Colony Collapse can inspire heavier music to find its way out of the Palmetto State.

 

I give Colony Collapse by WVRM an 8.5 out of 10.

 

If you do not want to listen to the album but would like a feel for the overall sound, listen to “Wall Slummed City”, “Thorn Palace”, and “Angel of Assassination”.

 

Please support WVRM during the COVID-19 pandemic by picking up a copy of Colony Collapse on https://wvrmgrind.bandcamp.com/ or other merchandise through https://shop.prostheticrecords.com/categories/wvrm.

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Walled Slum City
  2. War Promise / Secessionville
  3. Shining Path
  4. Anti-Democracy / Locust Breath
  5. Black Flags Toward Sodom (Me Ne Fegro)
  6. Tank Reaper
  7. Hands That Bear the Hive
  8. Thorn Palace
  9. My F%!king Dixie (The New South)
  10. Years of Lead
  11. Violet Nuclear
  12. Furious Movement / The Burning Tower
  13. Colony Collapse
  14. Angel of Assassination

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