Album review: Wristmeetrazor – Degeneration

Metalcore misanthropes Wristmeetrazor blast back into the abyss with bludgeoning third album Degeneration.

Album review: Wristmeetrazor – Degeneration
Sam Law

“The record is about misanthropy and being driven beyond nihilism to hate…” says Wristmeetrazor frontman Justin Fornof of the Washington D.C. metalcore crew’s savage third album Degeneration. “Pain seeks more pain, at least in my experience.”

It’s the kind of radically cynical rhetoric that so many extreme artists use to tout their wares, but if there’s one thing to be said for WMR’s brand of chaotic, serrated metalcore, it’s that it often legitimately feels like the product of a tortured psyche fighting back from the precipice.

Glitching and juddering into life, full-bore opener Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead initially feels like a measured blend of Slipknot, At The Gates and latter-day Code Orange, but promptly comes off the rails into pounding riffs and skin-crawling atmospherics. Static Reckoning arrives at a classic melodic-metalcore gallop, then veers into black metal frostiness and the towering melancholy of its clean-sung chorus. Trepanation is a snarling lesson in savagery, gnashing its teeth and straining at the leash like an animal with only bloodlust on its mind.

They’re the kind of compositions that other bands might draw out into indulgent, self-styled ‘epics’ but here Justin and his bandmates keep things short and sharp, with only four of the 12 tracks passing the three-minute mark. The 50 seconds of Culled And Forgotten could be the most impactful, surpassed perhaps only by the skull-crushing 131 of No Ceremony.

Nine Inch Nails-ish industrial inflections, faint shades of nu metal – and, indeed, WMR’s own gaudy cybergoth aesthetic – do occasionally distract. That sense of calculation and defined style is at odds with the more compellingly unhinged elements of their sound. But the latter tend to win out. Xeroxed Reflection, for instance, starts out like a predictable pit anthem, but descends into an unsettlingly repetitive breakdown, while the insistent synth beat at the heart of DogdayGod leads off the dancefloor into a sort of distended machine nightmare.

Degeneration won’t be for everyone. It’s too hopeless, too extreme for the mainstream, and too garishly gothy for really fringe metalheads. But by the time sprawling closer Greatest Love Offering In The History Of The World delivers its outrageous mid-point pivot from explosive violence to vampiric swagger, those willing to give in to WMR’s offbeat charms will have found plenty to dig in the depths of despair.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Killswitch Engage, Dying Wish, Slipknot

Degeneration is released on March 29 via Prosthetic

Check out more:

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?