2016 has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. You don't need me to tell you that; you have only to look outside (or on social media) for a bird's eye view of the ever-expanding chamber of horrors into which we've catapulted ourselves. It's only going to get worse, and we must steel ourselves in the face of that fact—and in those moments when we're not actively fighting, to find solace where we can. There are many avenues to explore in search of that escape, but for me, beautiful music has always offered safe harbor.
"Beautiful" is generally a relative term—hideously abrasive black metal can be beautiful as a gentle folk song—but some artists are able to circumvent those grey areas of perception and personal taste, and cross genre lines without a moment's thought, in pursuit of grace. Worm Ouroboros is one such musical entity, and what its members collectively create is objectively, inarguably, utterly beautiful. To attempt to deny that fact is to deny one's own ears.
Worm Ourboros is the sum of many interconnected parts; founders Lorraine Rath and Jessica Way and drummer Aseop Dekker boast one of the most impressive combined résumés in dark, metal-adjacent music (they've variously done time in Amber Asylum, The Gault, Agalloch, VHOL, Barren Harvest, Ludicra, and more) and those interlocking influences combine effortlessly on the trio's newest album, What Graceless Dawn. There's certainly a metallic element—specifically doom metal—at play here, but the prevailing sound owes far more to dark folk, death rock, chamber music, dark ambient, progressive rock… all things emotionally heavy, and sonically somber. This particular cocktail has been Worm Ouroboros' favored poison since the band's inception, but What Graceless Dawn is their crowning glory—their strongest and most intoxicating offering to date, and one of the year's most ethereally gorgeous recordings besides.
It's impossibly sad music—funereal, elegant, and quiet. It's music to spur your shivers on the coldest winter's day, or to curl up with, alone in the dark, or to soothe your wounds after a heart-wrenching fight with someone you once loved. The papery, lilting vocal harmonies float and weave like ghosts, beckoning you closer, closer, and closer still, until you're fully enraptured by their spell. Layers of drones and tones tempter the invocations, anchored by understated percussion and clean, mournful guitar melodies. Suffering has never sounded so divine.
What Graceless Dawn is out November 24 via Profound Lore, and we're absolutely honored to be streaming it in full below. Listen.
Kim Kelly loves this band and this album; she's on Twitter.