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Worms Of The Earth - The Lesser Ophidian Gate [return to reviews]
Label: Bugs Crawling Out Of People
Review by Christopher Roddy

From an "official" standpoint, The Lesser Ophidian Gate is the sophomore release from Baltimore's Dan Barrett, a.k.a. Worms of The Earth. Barrett's first label-backed album was a striking curiosity titled The Angels Of Prostitution released by Canada's Bugs Crawling Out Of People in 2008. It featured imaginative rhythmic noise coupled by ambient leanings geared more toward darker tastes with a definitive nod aimed at fans of the fiction stemming from H.P. Lovecraft's reign as godfather of horrific exploitation in early twentieth century literary pulp. Yet the material was difficult to dismiss as genre-specific absurdity considering how Barrett lent a steady and unrelentingly imaginative hand to sounds well tread, making Angels one of the more surprisingly satisfying treats his new label had to offer. WOTE is, quite simply stated, one of the best acts with which you are as of yet entirely unfamiliar. The time has come to rectify this unfortunate situation.

This is a six track "EP," essentially, featuring four new songs (representing the four keys to the gate) and two remixes. "To Dawn The Visage Of The Serpent" is a sprawling eight and a half minutes of brooding atmosphere and cutting electronics. Cavernous atmosphere is interrupted by a spare, near-tribal intro rhythm that is ultimately fed through an abattoir of scissoring sounds and eerie melody. In the hands of most a track this lengthy would be a wasteful enterprise bereft of the creativity to justify such an investment of time. Barrett managed to keep you interested, however, through subtle variances and well-programmed rhythmic interplay all the way through. He follows up that arresting performance with "Traversing The Saurian Abyss," a glitchy and much more aggressive number with some nightmarish vocal, synth and percussive layering that will test the limits of your auditory capabilities.

From there WOTE takes a decidedly more ambient turn with "Passing Through The Deep," featuring a ghostly female voice and a more traditional, pulsing beat pattern with skittering distortion over the top. Finally, "Anja (Viewing The Bodiless Realm)," has more in common with Dark Electro than Rhythmic Noise, showcasing a sprawling, atmospheric passage with spare percussive elements, reminiscent of acts like dISHARMONY. Blending brooding melody with lush synth and doses of punctuating glitch it's structured in such a way as to seem less like a movement and more of a journey through regions not well-traveled.

An extended remix of "Untitled (Trapped In Bardo)" unfolds over the course of nearly nine minutes. While a moderately interesting piece it's the one instance where brevity might have been the wiser course of action even though the garish, near-epic build toward the end is ultimately satisfying. The Vicious Alliance remix of "And I've Become The Demon" makes for a jarring juxtaposition from the preceding track. This is just standard Terrorbanana fare which might find a home in the clubs but detracts from the grandeur of the rest of the material presented in this collection. With a running time of nearly 45 minutes The Lesser Ophidian Gate offers more than just a quick dose of the artist to tide you over until the next release. There is plenty here to digest. You should take a chance on this always intriguing project as it consistently delivers plenty of interesting rewards.

See also: See also: Review: The Angels Of Prostitution

1. To Dawn The Visage Of The Serpent 2. Traversing The Saurian Abyss 3. Passing Through The Deep 4. Ajna (Viewing The Bodiless Realm) 5. - 6. Untitled (Trapped In Bardo) 7. And I've Become The Demon (Vicious Alliance Remix)