Key Tracks: “Bank Account Anxiety,” “Face Without Eyes”
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done a review on this site that wasn’t one for a pal or an extension from a different site or anything, but I’ll make some time for one of my absolute favorite bands – Oozing Wound. One of Chicago’s finest metal bands, and one of the country’s most underrated groups, is back with their fifth full-length album. It’s already a high watermark for 2023, though I’ve only listened to a couple of records so far.
One thing that’s obvious pretty immediately on “Cowards” is the change in direction. I had a feeling this was coming even looking at the song lengths, as they’re nearly all in a taut 4-5 minute range. There’s a uniformity there that’s normally been eschewed intentionally on their previous records. And indeed, this record sounds a lot different. Although they’re nominally a noise rock band, it’s always been safe to call Oozing Wound a thrash metal group. Songs like “Vein Ripper” have had the energy and riffs of thrash, just with a muddier production level. Well, “Cowards” is pretty distinctly a noise rock record, and a damn good one. These songs are more patient and varied, with heavier riffs and more medium tempos. Songs like “Total Existence Failure” and “Old Sludge” take more cues from old school groups like TAD than anything else, with pummeling guitars and loud but slower speeds. It’s fun to see the group lean into their other main influence, though they could keep putting out thrash-adjacent records and I’d be pleased. The production on this album – similar to their previous albums – suits the sound well. It’s a crunchy record, fuzzed out and difficult. It feels a lot more serious than their previous records, with their colorful covers and playful melodies. There’s an instrumental track in “Crypto Fash,” and a handful of songs that prove the band doesn’t have to rely on Zack Weil’s unique singing voice. There’s even credited piano and horn parts!
And yet, as much as things change, they also stay the same. The record is not without energy, it’s still distinctly Wound. Even though Oozing Wound sound like a million other bands, there’s no other bands that sound quite like Oozing Wound. And as much as they may sing on serious topics, they’re still tongue-in-cheek. The album’s title is great, and its cover looks like it’s been run through the wash. There’s songs with titles like “Crypto Fash,” “Hypnic Jerk” and “Midlife Crisis Actor.” It’s also fitting that Spotify messed up and labeled the album as being titled just “Oozing Wound,” despite the title being very readable on the cover. It’s still very fun and they’re still very funny, they’ve just adapted an updated sound. The band’s previous best songs were the super pummeling ones like “Surrounded By Fucking Morons,” but on this record, the midtempo opener “Bank Account Anxiety” is the standout. The song feels like “Colossus” by IDLES, in that it sets the record’s tone with a ceaselessly heavy, hypnotic rhythm that denies you the satisfaction of speeding up (well…”Colossus” does, but it still counts).
If you like noise rock, or punk, or thrash metal, then this is a great record by a great band. The band behind classic song titles like “Tween Shitbag” and “Everyone I Hate Should Be Killed” and “Welcome to the Spaceship, Motherfucker” has delivered yet again. I hope this album, which is much more distinctly a noise record, can find this group a proper audience. Exceptionally fun, exceptionally heavy, and exceptionally great.
If you like this, try: “God’s Country” by Chat Pile. Chances are you’ve heard that one if you’re still reading, but just in case – one of the best records of 2022, and similar to “Cowards” in the noise/metal hybrid and tongue-in-cheek yet deadly serious tone.
-By Andrew McNally