To say life hasn’t been easy for Singapore experimental grindcore band Wormrot feels like something of an understatement. It has taken the group six years to follow up their critically-acclaimed Voices album. From damaged vocal chords to writer’s block, Wormrot has been hit by challenge after challenge, only for the COVID pandemic to wipe out the last two years.
If that wasn’t enough, having overcome all of that and released a stunning new album in the form of the genre-destroying Hiss, the group was hit with another mountain to climb when vocalist Arif quit the band. Still soldiering on, V13 spoke to guitarist Rasyid Juraimi about the last six years and what the future holds in store for the band…
Thanks for your time. You’re back with Hiss on July 8th; what can Wormrot fans expect from it?
Rasyid Juraimi: “A fresh sound comprising elements from Abuse, Dirge and Voices, and new surprises to make this album stand on its own.”
It has been six years since you released your last album. Can you talk us through the reason behind the lengthy gap (aside from COVID, obviously)?
“After every album, we’ll spend two years touring to promote the album and then take a break from ‘serious duties.’ I’ll take this time to stretch my songwriting muscles and play with my other band, Marijannah. I had writer’s block, too, so that took me some time to restart. Then COVID took away two years, but I took that as an opportunity to write intensively.”
During this time, Arif suffered vocal damage. What caused that, and what was the recovery process like?
“Arif tore his vocal cords because he has not been practising. The first day of vocals recording was the first time we saw him in months. So that’s on him.”
You’ve also talked about burnout and life taking over, why was now the right time for a new Wormrot record and what brought you back together?
“Actually, ‘burnout’ and ‘life taking over’ only applied to Arif. For me, it was just writer’s block, but I kept myself active. I thought this was the right time because it’s been a little too long, and COVID also exacerbated it.”
Over that period of six years, you have spent the time experimenting with Wormrot’s sound, how exciting was that to do?
“A little scary, to be honest. When Voices came out, we received backlash for not sticking to the lo-fi mincecore sound of Dirge. Over time, Voices became the album that defined us. So there is an intimidating amount of pressure to make the new album better than Voices. I had to ‘zen’ myself out and focus just on making new music and not something ‘better than Voices.’ Aside from that, it’s fun once you get back on track.”
There have been plenty of new elements to the sound, like the introduction of strings and avant-noise sections; how did the experimentation with the sound change your vision and, in fact, your entire feelings for Wormrot?
“I was keen on introducing new textures to the Wormrot sound ever since we started writing again. Noise has always been synonymous with grindcore, and I’ve heard strings on a few neo-crust records. So it’s not something totally new and unheard of in the scene. These elements added a cinematic touch to our sound and the accompanying artworks of Hiss, and we tried to highlight that with our Revenge Trilogy MV.”
As well as all the experimentation on the record, there is still the underlying brutal grindcore heartbeat. How important do you think it was that you kept that element?
“It has to be powerful and fierce. But ever since Voices, we also want clarity and consciousness.”
Given the last two years, in particular, grindcore would seem like the most cathartic form of music. Has Hiss been inspired by the frustration and challenges of the last two years?
“Grindcore has always been the most cathartic music. It is a good drug. Strong, effective, and doesn’t take 6 minutes to start working. I also feel that I’m not a petty writer. I don’t write about or get inspired by ‘frustrations and challenges.’ I’m the suck-it-up-and-deal-with-it kinda guy, haha. I just wanna tell stories and make art.”
We’ve talked about the development of Wormrot musically, what about lyrically, what has been inspiring Arif on the lyrics for this record?
“For this album, I assisted Arif in lyrical duties. The lyrics are still honest and cover various styles and topics, ranging from climate change awareness to dying in an electric chair, to Malay skit comedy.”
Going forward you’ve clearly pushed the boundaries of extreme music, where do you want to take Wormrot from here?
“I’m not sure. If you did not know already, Arif has left the band, so there are going to be some changes. I can’t say what’s in the future just yet as we’re still dealing with this major problem, and we’re taking it a step at a time.”
And with that, if an extreme music fan had yet to hear Wormrot and picked up Hiss what would you tell them they would get from listening to it?
“I’ll say nothing and let them figure it out. Nothing beats self-discovery and self-realization.”
Just to finish off then, Hiss is out early next month. What are your plans for the rest of 2022?
“Nothing because we have no vocalist, and it’s a little too short of a time to prepare and plan for any show. We’ll start in 2023.”
Thanks for your time and good luck with Hiss. Over to you to wrap this up…
“Thank you for having faith in us. Took us 6 years, but we did not compromise on anything for this one. We are also in the transitional period after Arif’s leaving, so give us some time, more than you already did, to figure things out and get back to serious business. Thanks, V13, and thank you for reading this!”
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