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Rong - "Wormhat" | Album Review


by Kris Handel (@khandel84)

Wormhat is the debut full length from Massachusetts noise-punk band RONG, following a split release with Landowner in 2018. It is an unrelentingly loud and assertive record full of rage and a healthy dose of sarcasm amidst the clamor. RONG keep their personal information available close to the vest, but their music speaks loudly enough for all involved and that honestly is all that is needed. The music produced by the band can seem to be a little overwhelming or unwelcoming, but on the other side of that it is equally fascinating and not lacking in emotional involvement.

“Shrugging at the Dearth of Discourse” opens the record with guitars that sound like each string is going to snap due to the frenetic stress and pressure they are assaulted with while Olivia W-B howls somewhat indistinctly under the din. Eventually things calm down, extremely relative to what comes before, as their vocals forcefully come to the fore immediately grabbing the attention over crunching drum rolls and the churning push and pull between the guitars. “Grey Pull” is one of the record’s more expansive and experimental tracks led by crashing drum work and bass that rolls around, keeping the bottom as foundational as possible while guitars careen and dance around the space left open. The interplay between the guitars and vocals is masterful as they interlock and answer each other on occasion, as well as Olivia using their entire vocal register to tremendous effect during some of the more serene moments the track provides.  

“Mudskipper Emerges” is another track that provides one of the calmer moments on the album, that is not to say that it’s slow-building soundscape is any less foreboding than the rest of the record. Here the band manages to build tension through scraping guitar and bass that bounces around in between space left by the drums as a tale of rising out of dirt and grime fits harmoniously amongst the landscape behind it. The record ends with an unpronounceable character, that makes for a perfect end to the album as the band unleashes in waves of instrumental chaos as Olivia yips and intones wildly around. RONG truly click on this track in a way that sums up everything this band is about and it’s wild careening is never as captivating than right here at the end which just seems perfectly fitting.

Wormhat is a record full of explosions of all shapes and sizes - an outright assault - yet one that carries a weight that makes it impossible to escape or ignore. This is a record that asks a lot from the listener, but every moment is well worth the experience. The force and masterful interplay from all involved is quite an experience to partake in. RONG love to careen, scratch, pull and whatever else to destroy any boundary placed before them and in doing so have managed to pull together a crashing and devastating listening experience. The craft in this chaos is extraordinary and managing to pull everything back from the brink of destruction time and time again is a testament to a band that finds new ways to approach music as art and vice-versa. RONG have clearly announced themselves as a group willing to do whatever they have to push musical form in any direction they wish and have unleashed a wildly creative noise-punk record that is stunning on almost every level.