Chicago’s Oozing Wound change pace with their first grunge record

Lots of bands emerged from the lockdown era writing material with a darker tone than their pre-pandemic work. Local thrashers Oozing Wound take that to a new level with their brand-new LP, We Cater to Cowards (Thrill Jockey). Granted, they’ve never been purveyors of positivity—their catalog includes song titled “Everyone I Hate Should Be Killed,” “Surrounded by Fucking Idiots,” and “Everything Sucks and My Life Is a Lie”—but the vibe shift this time around is palpable. Gone are the snappy Dave Lombardo-style beats, the speedy solos, and the catchy scream-along choruses. Instead we get ten smeared, sludgy, grungy tracks of muddily rhythmic sonic misery. 

The last thing I expected from Oozing Wound was a slow record, but reinvention feels good from a band more than a decade into their career. The way they throw things back to behind-the-beat In Utero and Tad worship feels completely fresh and surprising. Even the boomy, natural reverb of Electrical Audio, where they tracked the record, recalls the sound of early-90s Steve Albini-recorded noise-rock classics. 

By the time the epic horn arrangement barges in on “Crypto Fash,” you’ll be completely engrossed with the band’s updated bag of tricks. And despite the unexpected turns and throwbacks, Oozing Wound weave elements of their classic sound into every track: Kyle Reynolds’s unrelenting drum fury, Kevin Cribbin’s monstrous fuzz bass, and Zack Weil’s dissonant shredding and ear-piercing shrieking. On We Cater to Cowards, Oozing Wound work out the pain and confusion of a hard few years with a new approach, and we’re lucky to have it. It’s complex, dirgy, and dark, and its twists and layers will keep you coming back for repeat listens.

Oozing Wound’s We Cater To Cowards is available through Bandcamp.

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