ALBUM REVIEW: Oozing Wound burps out old ideas on ‘High Anxiety’

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Oozing Wound, High Anxiety

A single glance at whatever coverage Oozing Wound has had over the past few years is enough to confirm that the new wave of thrash never took off in the hearts and minds of the metal community at large. If it did, then this Chicago trio wouldn’t seem so novel to so many for sounding like better thrash bands of a brighter age. Six albums in, with High Anxiety, Oozing Wound has little to offer but a half-baked, toilet humor facsimile of old school thrash and hardcore punk.

High Anxiety
Oozing Wound
Thrill Jockey Records, March 15

What’s there to say about a song like “Filth Chisel?” It begins draped in feedback like cobwebs at Disneyland in October, then—shocker—the band breaks into a furious, heavy riff. But the riff isn’t theirs. It’s the intro from Metallica’s “Blackened,” released in 1988. It’s exemplary of the album as a whole, where elements are added more out of obligation, rather than inspiration.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad. Sometimes Oozing Wound rips off more interesting bands instead. “Tween Shitbag” sounds like if “Tornado” by Voivod and “Medwton” by Believer were shoved into a hardcore Play-Doh press. But the band uses some chewy, harsh chords for the main riff, and there’s an odd breakdown in the middle with a groovy bass line and atonal guitar, and it seems like the band really gels. Albeit momentarily, Oozing Wound synthesizes something new.

There’s a difference between exploring old ideas and copying them. Vektor, one of the very few great bands to emerge out of the thrash revival, explores the same musical ideas that Voivod did, but remains itself, with its own insights into the sound by which it was inspired. On the other hand, Oozing Wound, like many other thrash revivalists, is essentially a tribute band that momentarily rises to greatness.

The twist with these bands is that most of them don’t know that they’re tribute bands. They’re not covering another band, so much as the entire subgenre of thrash. High Anxiety is not lacking in ideas. It’s lacking in refreshing or unique ideas. Fortunately, Oozing Wound’s hardcore side keeps its songs on the short side.

Perhaps the biggest problem with High Anxiety is that it’s pretentious. Multiple layers deep in irony, it’s hard to tell what the joke is. And just like when you hear Reignwolf play heavy blues as if his audience hasn’t ever heard of Led Zeppelin, it seems that Oozing Wound doesn’t understand what made thrash great in the first place. Approaching any kind of music with the kind of Burger Records boredom, slime and bong-water blues is annoying, rather than endearing and obvious, rather than insightful—especially when the older bands like Exodus were funnier too.

In the end, High Anxiety is another reminder of underground classics like Overkill’s Under the Influence, Kreator’s Pleasure to Kill or Vio-lence’s Eternal Nightmare that fails to present an original concept of its own. The record sounds like Voivod as written by FIDLAR, and it’s ultimately better just to listen to the real thing.

Follow reporter Josh Rosen at Twitter.com/tweetjoshrosen.

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