Seeing Through Fire

Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Seeing Through Fire
02. Carved In Stone
03. No Solace No Quarter No Mercy
04. Death Hoax
05. Thought Crimes
06. Unavoidable Truth
07. House of Flies
08. You Want it To
09. Mental Decontrol
10. Power and Blood
11. Playing God

When RINGWORM released their debut album "The Promise" some 30 years ago, they already sounded considerably more ferocious than any other metallic hardcore band one might mention. A few years of inactivity aside, the Cleveland quintet have been hammering grimly away ever since, while somehow becoming ever more vicious and uncompromising.

Their vocalist, James "Human Furnace" Bulloch is a uniquely potent not-so-secret weapon: it will take listeners roughly two seconds to deduce where he got his nickname from, and on "Seeing Through Fire", his scabrous roar is more merciless than ever. RINGWORM's ninth album, and first for NUCLEAR BLAST, goes hard. So hard, in fact, that despite a playing time of 31 minutes, this deeply ugly record will exhaust as many people as it excites.

For those with the stomach for it, "Seeing Through Fire" is one big, sustained dose of muscular, unrelenting violence. Hate drips from every riff. Songs arrive, beat the shit out of everyone present, and then leave. Unlike to a lot of so-called "hardcore", RINGWORM actually sound hardcore. This thing takes no prisoners.

Always getting the balance between brutal metal and punk fury exactly right, "Seeing Through Fire" begins with the scene-setting assault of the title track. The riffs are nasty and dark, Human Furnace is the expected howling, bug-eyed presence, and the production is fat, filthy and brilliantly live sounding. Honed by three decades of sweaty, explosive live performances, RINGWORM are a hostile machine, and every one of these songs impacts like a heat-seeking missile. "No Solace No Quarter No Mercy" is particularly venomous and sums up the lyrical and musical philosophy of this band perfectly. Not incapable of writing a hook, they harness hardcore's shout-along power, and spew it back out at death metal levels of intensity.

"Death Hoax" is slightly faster and even more bilious; "Thought Crimes" is a solid chunk of hateful heaviness, with blastbeats thrown in for good measure; "House of Flies" switches from all-out mayhem to scything, mid-paced thrash and back again; "Mental Decontrol" nods to the iconic D-beats of DISCHARGE and VARUKERS, while straining every sinew for a mid-song beatdown that is as warped as it is wild. Only the closing "Playing God", which begins in atmospheric instrumental mode, before erupting into an apocalyptic grand finale, strays from the incensed and incendiary blueprint.

Best consumed in one punishing hit, "Seeing Through Fire" makes no attempts to pander to more sensitive audiences. Instead, this is a horribly dark and heroically adrenalin-fueled punch in the face, and the most militantly unpleasant record to be released on a big metal label this year. Faces will be melted. Perfect.

Author: Dom Lawson
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