Release DetailsLABEL Code666
RELEASED ON 11/18/2005
posted on 11/2005 By:
Hey, something odd from Code666—now there’s a surprise. That’s fine with me though; I like the non-traditional and can always count on the Italian label to deliver in that regard. And based on that, as well as the little I knew about Wormfood (descriptors like “dark”, “weird”, and “wonderful”), I looked forward to a listening experience that I guessed would be as promising as it would be unusual. Still, to be perfectly honest, after a single listen to France, if you had told me that I'd eventually give this album an enthusiastic recommendation, I would have told you that it was more likely that I’d sprout a bulging anus on my forehead. Wormfood’s gruesome, theatrical send up of modern French society seemed too bizarre, too disjointed, too vaudeville, frequently annoying, and too…French. It never sounded like a bad album, but seemed unlikely to prove more than an intriguing curiosity. In short, something worth hearing, but not worth paying for. But after a couple more listens France really got its claws in me, and I can’t remember another album in the last few years about which I’ve done such a stark about face. This is the prototypical “not for everyone” album, and is damn near guaranteed to elicit an extreme reaction, but the pleasures of France await the riskier, and more patient metal fan.
As is often the case, what initially seemed like liabilities ended up being precisely the things that make this album unique and work so well. The band blends a cadre of genres and combines them with into a cogent, baroque, avantgarde performance. This kind of schizoid mood hopping makes a Mr. Bungle comparison appropriate, but in truth they’re not the Patton project that most directly relates to Wormfood. The artful and bizarre spirit of Fantomas (especially on The Director’s Cut) and the genre splitting keys and guitar work of mid to late period Faith No More are equally relevant, and yet still don’t get at the heart of Wormfood’s sound. The album opens with “French Lesson”, a track that begins like a language tutorial and quickly degenerates into the sounds of a man retching in some dark, seedy alley. The message is hard to miss; that beneath the polished presentation lurks a dank underbelly that most are content to pretend doesn’t exist. Wormfood leaves the stories of hell and Satanism to others, knowing full well that some of the most horrifying and tangible hells are living in a room down the hall, and exposed in songs like “Vieux Pédophile”. In one of the album's several brief, non-musical interlude tracks, an emcee announces to grand applause, the arrival of “the sodomite”, after which you hear a hulking, snorting beast that must look like one of Tolkien’s trolls. Those interludes, along with the frequent stylistic changes, and the alternating English and French lyrics and dialogue, are part of what seemed overwrought. But after proper acclimation, the album flows quite well. I’m sure that I’d appreciate the album on another level if I spoke French (and one can only guess that “Prejudice, Classism, and Burning Cars”, or some such title will be on France’s sequel) but the foreignness also lends itself to the bizarre, macabre nature of the album, which is one of a pained sneer grotesquely twisted into an exaggerated, horrific smile.
Consistent with the theatrical nature of the album, front man El Worm adopts a variety of singing voices and styles, from gothic to black, punk, and French variety. There is a substantial gothic lean to the album (and the import version of the album includes a cover of Type O Negative’s “Christian Woman”), but it’s misleading to describe this band as anything but avantgarde. Along with typical instrumentation are occasional oddities like accordion and what sounds like a music box. France includes nearly all of Wormfood’s Jeux d'Enfants album, and although the band’s site doesn’t currently offer mp3’s from this album, there are three from that album that have also turned up on this one. Those with an ear for the bizarre should make their way to the site post haste and check out the songs. France is an album that must be heard, not described. It may not be the best album you’ll hear this year, but I guarantee that you’ve never heard another one quite like it.
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