Worn Mantle - Hole (Ordovician)

It’s a testament to Worn Mantle’s command over post-dissodeath menace that Hole more than once made me jump out of my skin. Being foolish enough to take the opening six minutes as reflective of the whole record, I settled into the Monarch-esque, thick-as-treacle drones for the long haul—only to be knocked on my ass by the eruption of a frantic tremolo so viscous and encrusted with grime that it wouldn’t be out of place on an Altarage record. The following hour is a riff-drunk tour de force, deftly weaving through the scorched labyrinth of Hole’s two gargantuan tracks. The guitar work itself is often deceptively simple, but it’s imbued with infernal magic at the producer’s desk; behind the layers of char, there’s an undeniable sharpness to the recording quality. The rhythm section is captured with the energy and precision of a manic craftsman, particularly in the subtle metallic recoil of the bass strings.

Hole’s second half opens very differently, and on paper the extended clean instrumental section sounds dangerously close to cliche. However, the effect is far more than just expansive ambience—in fact, these less propulsive moments contribute an element of moody desolation, cleaving an abyss across an otherwise suffocatingly dense album. Of course, it’s not long until we’re tossed back into the mire of distortion, and are sent through a claustrophobic crawl through blackened cacophony a la Verberis. As the final approach intensifies and Worn Mantle fall victim to their own entropic obliteration, the record once again lapses into an impenetrable mass of caliginous noise. At an hour in length without respite, the experience requires considerable stamina, but Hole richly rewards those who brave its perilous runtime.