By Lord Randall
Sweden’s WOMBBATH were there in the glory gory days of almost my favorite style of death metal. Gimme HM-2 and I’m at least giving your band a chance. A demo, EP, split, you know the drill, and then 1993’s “Internal Caustic Torments” showed some promise…and then, the aptly-named “Lavatory” EP flushed all the gains of before right on down. It’s really only since 2015 that the band has come into its own, of a sort, and an argument could be made that the hiatus was simply a case of “right band, wrong time”.
Clocking in at over 70 minutes of music, WOMBBATH’s fifth full-length of all-original material “Agma” is already a “make or break” album by virtue of that fact alone. C’mon, it’s almost longer than any two of their first three put together, and it’s got 20 minutes over 2020’s “Choirs Of The Fallen” alone! Thankfully it seems the band knows this, as ‘The Law Of Everything’ destroys, and I don’t even care that it sounds like Jonny Pettersson is bellowing “The Love Of Orangutans!” ‘At The Giant’s Feet’ contains the first of many unexpected moments peppered throughout “Agma”, that being choral vocals that escalate the last 1 ½ minutes of the track to a new level for the quintet.
Withering in its intensity, ‘Blindly They Follow’, the triple-axe attack of Stuvemark/Pettersson/von Wachenfeldt far from just “filling space”, but dominating it, conquering, and that coda…perfect. ‘Breathe In The Flames’ has moments of genuine rock ‘n’ roll riffery, but listen closely to the Rudin/Davidson rhythm section, and you’ll see how vital a solid foundation is to what WOMBBATH going for here – oh, and there are violins joining the choir this time. And bloody Hell, it works.
Beginning as a death metal power ballad if ever there was one, ‘In Decay They Shall All Fester’ visits doomed areas, sluggish without being slovenly, picking up the pace from time to time, but always, always aware of itself. After such a wild ride, if the exit didn’t end on a high note much would be lost. Worry not, for ‘On A Path Of Repulsion’ does exactly what a finale should, in taking all the best of what’s come before and – in this case – molding it into one ginormous, swirling, gnawing behemoth, offering no escape.
“Agma” is the album WOMBBATH had to make. And praise be, they did. All Hail!