Here at Silent Radio, we don’t set store by stars or marks out of ten, but I would be surprised if Oozing Wound’s High Anxiety doesn’t turn out to be my “album of 2019”. I even love the front cover artwork and that hasn’t happened since 10,000 Days.

I am going through some difficult times right now, so it’s great to be able to stick in my headphones and let someone else express anger and frustration much better than I could. Oozing Wound does this in spades, in heaps, in mountains.

But there is more to this record than just the sound and fury of intelligent minds rebelling against the insignificance of life on earth (or death on Mars, as one of the tracks puts it). The broad themes of this collection of seven songs seem to be outlined in the opening track ‘Surrounded by Fucking Idiots’ and other songs, including ‘Birth of a Flat Earther’ and ‘Tween Shitbag’, suggest that Oozing Wound do not suffer fools lightly but there are numerous other hints throughout the album that their outsider worldview, while cynical, is as deep, incisive and confrontational as their music; I might have totally missed the point in the few listens I have managed so far, but I get the impression that ‘Die on Mars’ is a reference to global warming.

I haven’t bottomed out the lyrics yet but I definitely sense more to be had from repeated listening. High Anxiety seems a little less cryptic and more direct than recent previous albums Earth Suck and Whatever Forever; I connect with these songs straight away. While I am not exactly humming riffs, there are definitely a couple of moments that are sticking in my head – particularly the latter half of Die on Mars, which is a great example of using empty space and contrast to make something sound heavy as fuck.

High Anxiety is not a million-dollar album but it’s well recorded and does a great job of capturing the energy of a band I would really like to see live – Oozing Wound are tight without being clinical, aggressive but controlled, heavy but dynamic, quirky but not gimmicky and they are technically excellent (particularly on Vein Ripper) without being flashy.

At times the music makes me think of Slayer, early Tool and (Dave Grohl side project) Probot as well as having much in common with 2000’s American hardcore (punk), particularly in terms of the drumming. Vocally it is delivered with tonnes of volume and without much melody, but it’s not monotonous. Vocalist and guitar player Zack Weil doesn’t have an affected “metal voice”, which again makes this sound more like hardcore than amped-up macho-metal.

Oozing Wound continue to be original and somewhat unique and, although I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are really doing anything that is pushing the boundaries of metal, who is nowadays? (since BABYMETAL disappeared up their own ass?)

High Anxiety is probably destined to offend people from the margins, rather than break big in the metal world – not least of all because Oozing Wound don’t fit neatly into a box, and partly because they seem very opaque and intelligent, and contemptuous of almost everyone at some point or other (not exactly a recipe for likeability) – but it’s not for a lack of genuine quality and an excellent new offering.

Oozing Wound:High Anxiety – out now (Thrill Jockey Records)


Chris Oliver

I've been playing bass guitar and guitar for over half my life. I last played bass in in a band called Electromotive and as a singer-songwriter I have written songs about cheese and vajazzles (separate songs!). I started out listening to 60s, 70s and 80s rock as a kid and I was in to grunge and U.S. punk and ska in the 90s. Since then, I've broadened my tastes and I like the best of all styles of music, even country. I've been writing for Silent Radio since it started.