Ringworm - The Venomous Grand Design (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Venomous Grand Design (2007)


I once heard that men retain direct quotations (from movies, TV, media) something like twice as much as women. Why is this significant, you ask? It isn't really, but I'm going to use it to justify describing an entire album with just one sentence. The quote in question comes from another Victory band's release, that of Catch 22 and Washed Up and Through the Ringer. During the live portion of the release, there's a period where the guitarist is evaluating the tuning on his guitar, and segways that theme into an introduction of their next song, "Sounds Good But I Don't Know." And that is exactly how I would describe Ringworm's latest album, The Venomous Grand Design.

Sounds good, but I donno: Though Ringworm has always reflected to an extent the "holy terror hardcore" genre laid forth by its contributors in Integrity and followers like Pulling Teeth, The Venomous Grand Design leans a bit more heavily on a thrashier sound, giving the record more of a straight-ahead metallic feel with plenty of soaring guitar leads and solos. "Preach to No One" features fingertapping fretwork that ascends viciously up the scale, while "Dichotomy" opens with a calm, repetitive progression reminiscent of Metallica or Slayer lead-ins, two bands that probably influenced the metal side of Ringworm and holy terror more than a bit. Most of the songs linger around the two-minute mark, and each hit with authority and no lack of aggression.

Sounds good, but I donno: The biggest contributors to not being completely blown away by Ringworm's stellar musical proficiency are the lyrics, themes, and images that are frankly a bit difficult to get behind. It's obviously an artistic expression and for that there is no incorrect way of approaching the matter, but songs like "Suicidal Visions," "Life's Blood" and "Hangman" are as unsurprising as the impressive guitarwork showcased throughout the album. For example: "Life's blood, holy pride / March on Christian soldiers, I've already chose my side / Under a bleeding sky, a million unheard cries / Soulless and empty…," etc. etc. While not alarmingly bad, these themes have been exploited from Marilyn Manson to Mayhem, and don't come close to matching the quality and creativity of the music on The Venomous Grand Design.

Ringworm has certainly not failed to deliver another batch of ripping metallic hardcore on their third Victory release. And if you're into dark, devil-horned lyrical themes, don't let this review dissuade you from picking up a copy. For me, however, the music is damn good, but the rest…well, I just don't know.