Aggression is cathartic. There’s no big surprise there. Decades of musical innovation toward absurd extremes has been founded on that very idea—that creating barbaric noise and playing it at superhuman speeds is good for the soul. Or, in the case of the most depraved black metal bands, it’s good for those who disavow souls altogether. But there’s something about unrestrained destruction that can bring out a very basic, primal kind of enjoyment for that matter. It’s fun to lose your shit, figuratively speaking, in the proper environment. Given the opportunity to take a sledgehammer to a pile of cinderblocks, who wouldn’t find a smile creeping up their face as those hollow bricks crumble into dust?
That’s one way to explain the appeal of Chicago’s Oozing Wound, a noise-rock bred trio of heshers who may or may not agree with your assessment of where they fit into the thrash metal canon, but make a glorious mess in the process. On previous albums Retrash and Earth Suck, the group hit hard and with a reckless abandon, creating a kickass blend of sludgy, grunge-like melodies and thrash metal speed and aggression. And yeah, it sure as shit sounded fun, which hasn’t changed in the slightest on Whatever Forever. The band—comprising guitarist Zack Weil, bassist Kevin Cribbin and drummer Kyle Reynolds (who has left the band since recording, succeeded by Casey Marnocha)—are just as highly charged and furious in their approach, all the while rocketing forth on some of the greatest riffs they’ve ever laid down on tape.
There’s a sense with opening rocker “Rambo 5 (Pre-Emptive Strike)” that Oozing Wound are on a path of pure destruction—no pesky dynamics or nuances necessary. And were they to stick to such an approach, I’d neither blame them nor have much of a problem with it. “Rambo 5″ is built on a series of manic, punchy power chord riffs that descend from the altar of King and Hanneman. But “Rambo 5″ is perhaps the simplest of the record’s 10 tracks (which consume an appropriately lopsided three sides of vinyl), as the deeper one descends into Whatever Forever, the more complex and exploratory the songs are. “Diver” is rife with dizzying riffs, while “Deep Space” offers up a strong juxtaposition between gnarly chugs and technical fretwork. And there’s a climactic explosiveness to “Mercury in Retrograde Virus” that reveals, as it turns out, Oozing Wound don’t just have a handle on dynamics, their brand of destruction covers a pretty wide palette. Oozing Wound don’t succeed simply by virtue of being loud and fast, but because they’re writing some of the best songs of their career.
Oozing Wound seem to convey a comically aloof attitude with the title Whatever Forever, and through their generally jokey sensibilities (one song is called “You Owe Me, Iommi”), but it’s clear they take what they do seriously. They serve up this unique brand of destruction with a smile, but its quality is unwavering. Oozing Wound have always been a good band, but Whatever Forever—just like Earth Suck before it—shows they’re perpetually becoming a better one, and seemingly having a hell of a lot of fun in the process.