Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch | Review

One of the best things about my “job” as a metal writer is discovering new bands. Sometimes the bands themselves are new, and sometimes they're just new to me. Such is the case with Ringworm. The Cleveland hardcore juggernauts have been around since 1991 but their newest, Hammer of the Witch stands as my introduction. The band's signing to Relapse no doubt has helped raise their profile so that more of the innocently ignorant will be hopping on board. Once you've saddled up, you better hang on.

Since I approached Hammer of the Witch as a Ringworm virgin (although I've actually had ringworm) I'll present this as if you, the reader are a newbie as well. Ringworm play a style of metallic hardcore that is absolutely levelling. It's imbued with so much power, so much violent energy that remaining passive under its subjugation is an impossibility.

What stands out most is vocalist Human Furnace. His rage is palpable and energy infectious. Incendiary seems like an inadequate term as the burning intensity radiating from his throat scorches and destroys like a merciless wildfire. And one aspect in which Ringworm work metal into their hardcore is the lyrics which Human Furnace is torching the listener with. This isn't your typical hardcore fodder. It's not all tough guy, posi-vibes or straightedge banter. This is closer to death metal. “Leave Your Skin At The Door”, “I Recommend Amputation” and “One Of Us Is Going To Die” serve as examples of Ringworm's brutalistic edge.

When it comes to the band behind Human Furnace, things are no less uncompromising. Their hardcore is equally vicious and razor sharp. The riffs are muscular and work in ample groove. It pulls the listener close and compels involuntary headbanging. If they're not play the straightforward hardcore angle, they're probably ripping the floor to shreds with the gnashing teeth of thrash and a bit of crossover. The riffs are infectious and bruising and the solos shred. Whether laying down a hardcore punk beat or blasting migraines through your skull, the percussion is alway concussive. Simply, this shit rips no matter who's on the mic. But we're glad the Furnace is roaring.

Ringworm are a fearsome beast. The terror induced by their shear intimidation factor is only enhanced by Human Furnace's inimitable roar. Hardcore and metal fans alike should be drooling all over this release with a feral disregard for the tenets of humanity. If you're not getting beaten down by Hammer of the Witch, feel free you beat yourself up.

Matt Hinch

Band info: www.facebook.com/Ringworm13
Label info: www.relapse.com

Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Metal Bandcamp, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @KingdomofNoise.