What we have here today is a record by a group of gentleman, known collectively as WVRM, trying to answer the age-old question:
"Is there really any good grind music made in South Carolina?"
Well, after a smattering of feedback and samples, WVRM answer with an emphatic "OOOUUUAGGGGH" to kick things off on the first track. The ensuing riff on Walled Slum City sounds like Rotten Sound meets Dragged into Sunlight meets Scott Hull before some classic D-beats and blasts from drummer Brett Terrapin drag us down into a breakdown that borders on slam, complete with guttural vocals and some really sludgy yet tight palm mutes. One thing I appreciate about the guitar tone on Colony Collapse is that while you still pick up some HM-2 rawness in the signal, it doesn't overpower the dynamic range, which makes the tone way more versatile. A little compression won't ruin your sound, I promise!
And this album is nothing if not versatile. War Promise/Secessionville is basically a 30 second call-and-response between some of the more prevalent sounds found throughout the album. Shining Path brings in hella feedback, before an almost industrial-sounding bridge leads into the classic grindcore ending.
The next track Anti-Democracy/Locust Breath opens with a badass OSDM riff that almost starts to get into a Dying Fetus groove before weird dissonant Gaza riffs lead us back to that chunky groove. The track ends with a crusty D-beat into blast riff with a savage hardcore riff. This might be one of WVRM's best tracks on here, and it encapsulates a lot of the textures they can achieve so well into 2 minutes of fun (trust me, they're not all this good).
On that note... the next tune alternates between something akin to a way to distorted Pestilence riff and a generic chug riff. Then we get some by-the-numbers Euro D-beat before a surprisingly tame sounding breakdown outro, complete with corny lyrics (I'll let it slide once on account of the whole South Carolina thing).
Before I get into the next track I honestly want to give a shout out to Ian Nix. This man's vocals are an integral component of this band and album's versatility and lethality. 99% of the time his vocals are absolutely top-notch and sometimes carry the song from one stanza to the next with a deftness few can match
That being said, I'm not exactly sure what he's going for on Tank Reaper. It kind of sounds like he is trying to suck a golf ball through a garden hose but with an SM58 at the other end. It doesn't exactly help his cause that the riff underneath sounds like a B-side from a P.O.D. record. I know this is supposed to be a grind record but repetitive mid-tempo riffs such as this with 2 or 3 notes and no speed changes really bore me quickly after settling into the fury of the previous few tracks. With riffs this bland you're forced to fixate on Nix's vocals, and in this passage it sounds like he is trying out for Dark Funeral or Emmure. Maybe both.The cringiest thing on the whole project occurs at around the 1:38 mark when the guitars fade out and he growls "COME GIVE IT TO ME." This proclamation leads into the ending section of the always solid blasts, some cool speedy riffs, but Nix has decided to channel a mix of Attila and Nergal when he lost voice for the closing passage of this song.
The next cut Hands that Bear the Hive offers 33 seconds of dissonant Zao/Gaza riffs before dissipating into blasts, basically serving as an unnerving interlude. The next cut Thorn Palace starts off strong as WVRM regains their composure. A sample leads into a Rotten Sound/Converge assault that is some of the heaviest stuff on the album. Unfortunately this all devolves into a Knocked Loose-style breakdown that lasts way too long. A short vocal sample offers some breathing room before we jump back into that same mid-tempo riff that has Nix repeating the refrain "THORN PALACE" a couple times too many.
My Fucking Dixie starts off with some Nile (also from SC) homage that just rules. Brett Terrapin brings the drums down to a mid tempo groove before diving in a cool guttural blasting section that transitions into one of more crust punk moments but the minor dissonance keeps it fresh before Terrapin does a damn good Kollias impression under those Nile riffs. After a short pause the riff comes back more clean, compressed, and with way punchier kick drums. These last few seconds of the song are basically their excuse to play a little deathcore.
Years of Lead has to be the most pit-ready of all the songs on here. It has a cool Nile-esque bending and blasting intro before it goes full Wild Steve. I actually respect the guys in WVRM for just straight up making a mosh song without any of the pretentiousness that some grind acts are known for. The next jam is pretty by-the-numbers but it is executed so well that I don't mind at all. On Violet Nuclear they get back to basics: the drums switch from blasts to D-beats to blasts and so on while a fitting ascending/descending guitar riff buzzes around them. A guitar solo poking its head up through the mix towards the end of the song makes me feel like Misery Index stole the stage for 10 seconds.
Furious Moment starts out awesome with the ferocity of Rotten Sound with a little extra dirt thrown in there. This is about as far as I can get in this song: they transition into a mid-paced Metallica style bridge that really kills all the momentum that had built up so far. Some other cringey lyrics make their appearance here: "REAP WHAT YOU SOW SINK LIKE A FUCKIN STONE." The little electronic glitches and guitar scrapes leave basically only the bass backing up Nix as he once again tells you to "REAP WHAT YOU SOW SINK LIKE A STONE."
Next up is the title track, and I was very optimistic heading into it. A title track over 3 minutes on a grind record? Expectations were high. Well, it starts out spooky and electronic, maybe Acid Witch meets Merzbow, but in a silly 8-bit way. Kind of building some momentum here? Waiting for a beat of a drum or a single note to let me know the build-up is underway. A single drum strikes lonely notes against the background of what is starting to sound more like power electronics. Now the vocalist begins singing in sync with the drum beat. The doubts about this song start to creep in. This is starting to feel like an idea Liturgy had that went off the rails. The drum has no discernible rhythm, just random strikes accompanied by what are now ear-piercing electronic screeches. I feel like one of the members of WVRM was likely using the single drum in an interpretive dance. Just as you think this song must be wrapping up, they introduce more space noise that sound like electric blasts? Space noises? Nothing about this song is heavy or even introspective. Let's just have Blood Incantation have the corner on space themed stuff for now.
Angel of Assassination is the final and longest track on Colony Collapse. It fades in with a peaceful cello melody that is completely obliterated by a brutal Yacøpsæ-style assault of blasts and fast guitars. I could definitely have used some more of this sound in the rest of the album! Some vocal isolation and well placed palm-mutes drag the listener down into a mid-paced crossover riff that makes you want to move and throw things. Bars of alternating blasts and D-beats make for a fitting close to the album.
I think this album is pretty good, there are some tracks I could see myself revisiting again. But the gripes I have with it will probably be what makes Colony Collapse to be what puts WVRM on a lot of people's radar. This album is much more polished, and has some obvious core influences that make it more accessible than their earlier work, and with support from a label like Prosthetic I'm sure they have a bright future ahead of them.
If you liked the raw aggression that is still apparent in WVRM's style, check out some of their earlier material I've posted below. The earlier stuff may not be as adventurous or well-polished, but it has a charm all it's own.