Lamentations of the Flame Princess

I was reading, as I occasionally do, Deena Weinstein's Heavy Metal: The Music and Its Culture , and was admiring how, as I always do, she manages to completely squeeze every bit of vitality and excitement out of heavy metal in an effort to legitimize it. Her talk of heavy metal "codes" is the worst example of this, taking frameworks of heavy metal and portraying them as set-in-stone defining features (The fact that it's sixteen years old doesn't help).

The difference between this latest reading and those previous is that I happened to be listening to Scald's Vermiculatus at the time. (Not that such an arrangement is particularly respectful to either the reading or the listening, both of which deserve total attention, but the decision was intentional and not passive, and reading a book about heavy metal that I've already read is always best accompanied by a heavy metal album I've already heard.) I had to stop all activity and muse whether or not I was listening to a jazz or classical album, because this thing ignores all "codes" that heavy metal is supposed to follow. Indeed, it may not be metal at all.

Vermiculatus combines two of the most ambitious trends that heavy metal has been producing in the past decade or so: The all-instrumental album, and the album-length song. Scald gives us forty-seven minutes of pure sound and impression, no message (I should mention that there is "multimedia content" on the CD as well but I'd rather nail my testicles to my chair than watch music videos, sorry), no standardization of format, and no concession to even the least powerful notion of marketability (although it apparently is financially supported by a government arts program).

And it's such an impressive effort that if it turns out Vermiculatus is not heavy metal (but what should at least the first half of this be called? Hard music ?), heavy metal is poorer for it.

The entire piece is structured almost as a classical piece (that 30 CD, 15€ crash course in the works of orchestral composers was just in time!) with little of the composition based in standard heavy metal or rock forms. It has a beginning, middle, and end with no returning passages.

Vermiculatus is largely a dirge, with a slow pace and big, huge guitars (and the fattest bass I've heard in forever) crawling and churning their way through space, broken up with desolate passages featuring non-distorted guitar, for the first seventeen minutes or so. At that point it introduces static as a backdrop for more precise and energetic playing, including what sounds like a lead bass line amidst the (intentionally) decaying sound field. When it clears up, the playing alternates between playful and electronically harsh , including a sound effect that I can only describe as a cyber-cicada. I'd usually shit all over the "industrial" sounds, but there is nary a dance beat to be found, and this isn't an example of old rockers trying to "get with the times", so all of the circumstances which make me hate electronic noise are absent.

Twenty-two minutes brings the most precise playing of the album, little melodic bits which are the closest thing this album gets to what one may expect from the phrase "instrumental album." By twenty-four minutes in that is all gone and the album has gotten lighter, first with keys leading the way, then even those dropping out to allow the drums to slowly march to where everything is going.

(I'd say this part is especially "atmospheric" but then I realized the term means nothing . Bon Jovi is atmospheric, in its own way. The question that reviews often beg but never answer… what kind of atmosphere?)

Just before the twenty-seven minute mark, all traces of instrumentation and playing depart, and Scald takes us on a journey through fully electronic soundscapes. This goes on for a few minutes before calming down, until even that calm is devoured by static…and from there the album is much calmer, never returning to the "band" formation. Yes, for the last twenty minutes of playing time, this is some sort of ambient/electronic work.

What I have found unusual, and this has cemented my initial enthusiasm for the album into a real respect for the artists involved, is that I get upset and disgruntled when this portion of the song is interrupted. Forty-seven minutes is not a very long time to give attention to something, really. Yet of all the activities one can perform, listening to music gets perhaps the least respect as far as people leaving you alone until you are finished with it. Reading is its only competitor for being a less-respected way to spend time uninterrupted. For almost anything else, a person would consider it rude to interrupt and demand attention. Watching a movie, cooking, showering, tuning up a car, having sex, sleeping, painting a bowl of fruit... you're busy, and if it's not an emergency, they'll wait. Try this experiment beginning next Monday: Go home and just play an album, any album. Front to back. Do absolutely nothing else. Whether the album in question is conceptual and unified such as Crimson or Light of Day, Day of Darkness , or a shorter, "regular" album such as Reign in Blood , is irrelevant. Just pick one album you want to listen to. Keep track of how many days in a row you can achieve at least one uninterrupted listening. Now, the next week, announce that you will be listening to that album when you return home from work or school or whatever it is you do. Tell your parents/spouse/children/ roommates if you live with someone, or your classmates/ workmates if you do not. Announce that you want to experience the album, front to back, and really understand what is happening. (for added sociological fun, for the third week announce that you plan to masturbate vigorously for an hour every day, and see if the looks you get are any more shocked than announcing you plan to listen to an album).

I can guarantee that you are more likely to be interrupted during your listening if you announce that you will do so, by the very people you announce your intentions to. To most people the announcement will come across as a declaration of loneliness, "Oh, woe is me, I have nothing better to do than listen closely to music. Save me!" At worst, you, the listener , become the rude one, for daring to indulge in such a way. "I plan on doing absolutely nothing for the next thirty-to-sixty minutes and I would appreciate that you all fuck off and leave me the hell alone during that time." Do this experiment. I want to know what really happens.

So is Vermiculatus a difficult listen because of the material? The format? Or is it the lack of opportunity, an obstacle completely outside of what the band actually recorded, to gain total familiarity with the whole that causes frustration? Forget phrases such as "only sophisticated listeners will enjoy this album," we're into the realm of "only the most dedicated listeners will get a chance to experience it at all."

Because every minute of these forty-seven is important. The last twenty minutes are effectively an entirely different musical genre than the previous twenty-seven but both become necessary to the whole. Just listening to the band portion and skipping the rest just feels… incomplete. Unsatisfying. Reaching the true end of the album may not always be the most pleasant experience (I know I don't enjoy electronic music), but it brings that closure and satisfaction in both the listening experience and artistic resolution, as well as the knowledge that the world at large was held off for these forty-seven minutes for something truly important: art.

It's funny, beginning from the stages of excitement and wonder listening to this album the first couple of times, to the enthusiasm in knowing I'm going to tell people all about it, to sitting here at the computer and realizing I have no ability to string enough words together to paint an accurate picture. But of course my descriptions of passages of the album are insufficient (cyber-cicadas?), as words are only so good at describing sound, and I am only so good with words as it is. Yet I've tried describing cartoons to a blind person before and this review doesn't seem half as useless an endeavor. I am pretty darn excited to be hearing something within the context of what I do here without being able to rely on standard phrases to describe standard sounds. So much of this is beyond my usual listening. Shit review for a great album. (and since wrapping this review up I've gone to several review websites to see what they said about it… and what I found were incoherent shit reviews struggling to describe this as well… I feel relief…)

I suspect that "forty-seven minute instrumental song" attracts or repels all on its own, and any additional words are superfluous anyway. Anyone interested in such a concept should be well satisfied with what is presented, and I can't imagine anyone skeptical or put off by the idea of such a thing will have the patience to sit through it.

The scene needs more music and less product . If only more bands could be this ambitious. Highest recommendation.

(review by James Edward Raggi IV, originally published in LotFP #66, August 2006)


Metal act

The sound of a submarine crushed by giant waves.
It seems that metal is heading in stranger and stranger directions, and allow me to be very glad for it. Who risks listening to “Vermiculatus” starts in an ample 48-minute journey in a closed, empty space. It's not easy to fit Scald in the classic labels, but what's for certain is that their music has its far-away roots firmly planted in doom metal. Who lends his ears has what to listen to. “Vermiculatus” is a musical oxymoron, it joins “heavy” stoner riffs a-la Kyuss, sludge atmosphere, industrial parts a-la Godflesh, psychedelic ones a-la Tarantula Hawk, drone and noise in the most original way possible, that if we don't consider “Headworm”. Their precedent album.
The mastodon-track is built on a well-defined skeleton, seemingly dating from a funeral-doom mammoth: crescendo, climax, ending. Hmmm… ending, ending, ending. The instruments overlap somehow in another way than in traditional metal: over a riff that “rules”, percussion coming in front. The serve only for the atmosphere. It's exclusively instrumental.
It's strange how such an album, a willing mixture of styles, can easily compete with others belonging to already-established, well-determined genres. “Vermiculatus” contains true attacks to the hearing systematically and intelligently built, and they are the most listenable ones, as opposed to eccentricities such as Wolf Eyes.
Sometimes beings able to eat even metal are born. Listen to the great worm and you will understand what I am talking about.

8/10 Samyaza


Metal Storm

This is one seriously damaged work of art to say the least; this album might be one of the most disturbing experiences I've had this year (and I thought Stalaggh was sickening). "Vermiculatus" is one of those albums that will haunt your dreams for its eclectic dissonance and methodical irony; the intriguing factor will keep your ears near the speakers and the eerie sounds will make you want to run as fast as you can.

There are some albums that are enjoyable only if you're doing something else (let's say organizing your stack of porn for example) and there are albums that need your attention from the beginning to the end. Scald successfully created a compelling mix of both kinds; "Vermiculatus" can be dissected in two halves, the first one embodies the musical skills of these Irish brains, the second one becomes an ambient-noise hiatus ala Objekt 4, Stalaggh, and Merzbow with creepier approaches (I'll talk about this later in the review)

The first half-hour goes by marvelously; I can't get enough of the music found in this record. Scald attacks the listener with one of the most solid Post-Metal assaults in the scene; this half narrates uncanny music indefinitely, it gathers an imprecise number of influences and styles creating an eclectic musical mixture. The mix of genres is almost undeniably infinite, yet the tight execution makes it easy on the ear. So much for the "musical" department, it's really original, it's intricate, it's aggressive, and it's fucking mind-blowing; but the next branch it's even more complicated.

The ambient-noise part it's really hard to digest; at first it sounds like a mild face of Merzbow, but once you toss this CD in your computer you'll see things differently as I did. The noisy side it's accompanied by a short-film…a very, VERY disturbing short-film; it's all about worms conceiving humans and worms fucking up with humans and all things "worm". The clip manages to keep you aware even though the imagery becomes really raw at times; anyway, this short-film makes the ambient-noise segment slightly "bearable" (as the video itself it's quite disconcerting as well), and in the end this thing will only enhance your experience with "Vermiculatus" in a very awry way.

You need to hear this album to know how "conceptually twisted "sounds like; the music part it's incredibly worthwhile, and even though the noise segment takes some re-playable values off of this disc, "Vermiculatus" is still a magnificent piece from this year's roster.

Best Tracks: lol

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Production: 7
Overall impression: 8




"Staying right in the same groove is Scald's enormous new record VERMICULATUS, on the Code 666 label. Like Sleep's JERUSALEM, this record consists of one single track, this one 47 minutes long, which moves through several stages from bombastic metal riffery to musique concrete via white noise and the moving of the earth's tectonic plates. Check out their myspace or buy this sucker at . "


Metal Ireland

When the gods created Scald they must have intended it as a cruel joke with which to torment music critics the world over. A comeuppance for their opinionated ways, their choice to engage in a pass time based on judging the efforts of others. Undoubtedly, many of these critics will, upon receipt of the latest mutated, disfigured Scald offspring ‘Vermiculatus', have requested that their editors depart and defecate, as it were. For Scald defies all conventions, providing nothing for the reviewer to latch on to, nowhere to get a foothold. But then presumably creating music that is simply unquantifiable is part of what Scald is about. Certainly it is what makes the band so fascinating.

The vermis has grown over the last three years. It has multiplied and it has spread. No longer just in the head, the host is now ridden with worms, and ‘Vermiculatus' charts the course of the organism in decline, as it is gradually hollowed out from within, through moments of pain, pleasure, despair, terror and relief. Scald has no consideration for its listeners. ‘Vermiculatus' is intense. It's schizophrenic. It's psychotic. It's unlike anything you'll have heard before. And it's often brilliant. Fans of traditional popular and rock music concepts such as the verse, the bridge, the chorus, the solo, concepts such as the song, will probably view ‘Vermiculatus' much as they view the pustulant pimple nested in that sensitive area where the fold of the nose meets the upper lip, from where it stubbornly refuses to budge.

‘Vermiculatus' is a rollercoaster ride. A slow, pensive start, a moment of shock, and then almost relieved cheer. A lightness. And then the end of respite; a long, drawn out, fragmented heavy slog, the loud bass contrasting entirely with the guitars and drums, all accompanied by swirling, eerie keyboard sounds. The music and the mood alternates again and again over the first thirty minutes, yet with the exception of one or two more obvious breaks, it's a single coherent piece, albeit twisted and flanged. It ranges from isolated optimistic flashes, to stop/start frantic moments to droning terror. It is at times slow, building up to a claustrophobic crescendo, before abruptly stopping again and drifting off into a monotonous sonic wasteland. At times it's a whirlwind of noise. But it's always intense; always ominous. And then the twenty ninth minute arrives. After the hissing and buzzing has faded, the gentle cadences come almost as a relief from the terror and confusion of before, presumably as the host dies. The relief is only short lived, however, as now the second part of the album begins and the parasite moves on; when the ‘music' ends, and the no less intense ambient part begins. Another challenge for the listener.

Can one speak of a concept album when there are no lyrics? Does the term become redundant when the album in question consists of only a single track? In either case, there is a story behind ‘Vermiculatus', a story its creators may or may not decide to tell. But it's there, and the music tells you it's there. And that's one of the Scald's greatest achievements; it's more than just the quality of the execution, the creativity, the great production. ‘Vermiculatus' is a vibrant, evocative, living piece of music that enraptures the listener. At least all those who can bear to listen. The purists might say that the music is all that counts, but the members of Scald are realistic enough to know that this isn't the case; that the eyes judge too, and have packaged ‘Vermiculatus' accordingly. In-house artist, and twisted visuals genius Unhinged has come up with a suitably bizarre and disturbing design to accompany the ‘ridden with worms' concept, and a short animated video bonus track, again best summed up using the same two words – bizarre and disturbing, to round up a milestone in Scald's career, and possibly in extreme music generally.

A final observation. Some will possibly already have been aware of Scald's reverence of Voïvod, and close listening to ‘Vermiculatus' will confirm this. Whether the influence is just something natural, fundamental to Scald's music, or whether it was a conscious element during the writing of the album, a reaction to the sad death of Denis ‘Piggy' D'Amour last year, only the band will know. At times, though, one might think Piggy himself had a hand in the album, a guest appearance even, and as such ‘Vermiculatus' is also a fitting tribute to the man, an affirmation of his importance as a musician, and a confirmation of his legacy.

4.6/5 - David Butler Manning


Planet Loud

In Brief - Completely brilliant and unsettling music for the brave few

By the gods, that was unsettling. Scald's latest release comes courtesy of the most respected label in the metal underground, the ridiculously brilliant Code 666 records. Scald are an ideal band for an elite roster such as Code 666, and it was always inevitable that they'd make their home there. “Vermiculatus” has been hotly anticipated for some time now, and with the revelation that the N. Ireland Arts Council had sponsored an animated video for the release, expectations were high.

“Vermiculatus” is an album of two vastly differing styles; the video track features a mother, father and baby all succumbing to the Vermiculatus parasite from previous albums “Headworm” and “Nematoid,” and certain religious overtones can be found. It's highly disturbing, yet one cannot tear their eyes away from it. The soundtrack to it is eerie and unpredictable, and definitely begs further study.

The music track is a 47 minute instrumental, played to perfection, with excellent time changes, no repeating parts, and a very Rush-like prog feel. It's as uncommercial as you can get, and very inaccessible on first listens. The ambient part in the middle is extremely menacing, and creates a tense atmosphere, which is exacerbated by new keyboardist Glyn's headmelting tones.

The artwork is done by Paulrus, who also drums for Scald, and is simply breathtaking in all its disgusting symbolic detail. The band are notoriously uncommunicative about their concepts, preferring instead for the listener to develop their own interpretations. This release both mesmerises and terrifies in equal measures, and remains a must for anyone into challenging music. Most people will hate it, but the few that Scald are targeting will love it. I think I need to lie down. With the light on.

[Rating 9] Dónal McBrien


VS Webzine

Pas plus tard que dans la chronique du dernier COMITY, j'évoquais rapidement une forme d'intellectualisation de la musique qui allait crescendo depuis quelques temps déjà. Voilà que le hasard a voulu me mettre dans les mains cet album des Irlandais de SCALD dont le label annonce la couleur dans la bio en présentant ce deuxième disque de leur carrière comme étant le plus expérimental et anti-commercial à ce jour. Des propos un rien racoleur mais qui en disent quand même long sur ce qu'on va probablement devoir subir.

Ignorant tout du groupe en question, je me penchais sur leur carrière et apprenait que le combos avait vu le jour en 1993 en Irlande du Nord et qu'il avait déjà à son actif quatre démos et un album ce qui n'est pas un bien grand palmarès pour une carrière de plus de treize ans. Un rapide échauffement des conduits auditifs et me voilà parti pour « Vermiculatus » l'anti-commercial.

Effectivement, le moins qu'on puisse dire, c'est que SCALD a volontairement choisi d'enregistrer un album pas facilement appréhensible par le quidam lambda. Premier point important de « Vermiculatus », le disque ne contient qu'une seule et unique plage de plus de 47 minutes. Second point : l'album est entièrement instrumental. Troisième point, SCALD a composé exclusivement ce disque de thèmes uniques qui ne se répètent à aucun moment. Quatrième point « Vermiculatus » est un concept album (sans textes, oui, oui!) dont le thème principal réside dans les vers métaphysique de l'esprit (gné ?)
Et enfin cinquième point, le trio irish se décrit lui-même comme étant une formation de « Progressive sludge grinding doom ». Alors oui, compte tenu de tous ces éléments, vous vous doutez bien que « Vermiculatus » fait partie de ces disques dont on ne sait pas trop par quel bout les prendre lorsqu'il s'agit d'en parler dans un article (message personnel « merci Greg !»).

En fait, de plage unique, l'unique titre de « Vermiculatus » se compose de deux parties bien distinctes. Dans la première moitié, SCALD pose les fondations d'un sludge metal alternant passages ambiants et riffs lourdement assenés. Dans un premier temps, on a le sentiment d'écouter un genre d'easy listening métal digne d'une salle d'attente de dentiste et puis très progressivement et nonchalamment, SCALD nous entraîne sur un terrain de plus en plus sombre. Peu à peu une sorte de tension, principalement échafaudée par le côté volontairement abstrait de la composition, s'installe. Bien vite les ambiances sont plus lourdes et le paysage bucolique du début se transforme en immonde marais glauque et inquiétant. L'absence de chant ne fait que renforcer ce déplaisant sentiment de désarroi qui prend forme. Il faut bien l'admettre, sous sa forme rigoureusement indigeste, sans repère, SCALD réussit à nous entraîner dans une sorte de miasme musical abscons qui fout carrément les boules. Le genre de truc qui rendrait maniaco-dépressif un télétubbie, c'est vous dire.

En ce qui concerne la seconde partie de « Vermiculatus », le trio reprend l'idée de la première moitié qu'il décline en exercice de style encore plus avant-gardiste en se contentant de jouer sur une seule corde, de nous balancer tout un tas de bruitages électroniques dont la portée m'échappe totalement et de triturer tous les boutons qu'ils avaient sous la main pendant leur passage en studio.

Ce disque comporte également une piste multimédia composée d'un film d'animation noir et blanc visuellement stroboscopique qui décline le concept des vers métaphysiques en un série de scènes incohérentes accompagnées de bruitages qui m'ont fait croire, dans un premier temps, à une défaillance de mon PC.

En voulant pousser dans ses derniers retranchements une œuvre pseudo-artistico-intellectuelle, SCALD réussit seulement à rendre la fin de ce disque pénible et fortement rébarbative. Tout cela me laisse à penser que je ne n'ai visiblement pas la fibre intellectuelle suffisamment développée pour appréhender dans sa plénitude cette galette résolument atypique. Une chose est néanmoins certaine, les écoutes successives de « Vermiculatus » m'ayant foutu le moral dans les chaussettes, il me faudra probablement toute une journée du best of d'Henry Des dans ma platine pour me sentir mieux.

Par curiosité, j'ai poussé le vice jusqu'à aller écouter des extraits des précédents enregistrements mais il n'y a que peu ou pas de similitude entre ce disque et certains trucs excellents que j'ai pu découvrir dans des démos.
En particulier « Born with Teeth » qui est entièrement disponible en téléchargement sur leur second site (en fait ils ont trois sites en tout et pour tout.

Mais pour revenir à nos moutons, « Vermiculatus » est un disque plus désagréable que captivant. Comment voulez-vous que je note un truc pareil ?


Guts of Darkness

« Progressive sludge grinding doom ». Forcement, présenté comme ça, ça aurait presque de la gueule Scald (ne pas confondre avec l'homonyme russe, ce Scald là est irlandais), ça donnerait même envie de s'y pencher. "One instrumental track, 47 minutes"... Bon ok, c'est parti. Une écoute... deux écoutes... vingt écoutes (le promo traine sur mon étagère depuis une éternité). Et voilà qu'aujourd'hui, 18 Janvier 2007, je ne sais toujours pas quoi dire d'intéressant de ce disque. La musique de Scald se présente globalement comme une espèce de zapping barré de tout ce qui marche à ce moment. On peut oublier le "Sludge grinding Doom", le son ici n'est ni gras, ni crade, et se rapproche bien plus de dissonances et de structures Post rock adaptées à un son limite Meshuggesque, ultra sec et rentre dedans. Une cassure rythmique… 3 mesures… un break planant… un petit coup de pilonnage pour la forme… un trip psyché zarb… *Je me fais chier*… *Ah non, tiens là c'est sympa*… *pfiou ce partage en vrille !*. Vermiculatus se traine pendant ses 25 premières minutes, (volontairement ?) hermétique, (un peu) glauque et (surtout) complètement barré. Quitte à coller une étiquette, je me serai plutôt lancé sur du « Free Progressive Power Metal », mais bon, ça sonnait moins dans le vent. Passé ce cap, le disque bascule progressivement vers une espèce d'Ambient industriel parfaitement creux et insignifiant, à base de bruitages lointains vaguement trafiqués, dont le seul résultat est d'accréditer la théorie selon laquelle le début du disque tiendrait plus de la fumisterie pseudo conceptuelle que d'une véritable démarche artistique « Progressive ». On se retrouve donc avec un album en demi-teinte, qui, de plus, n'ouvre pas vraiment de perspectives pour le groupe, l'effet de ce genre de délire étant en général assez limité dans le temps.

3/6 Yog Sothoth


Power Metal

Wie soll eine Band klingen, von der selbst die Plattenfirma fast schon warnend behauptet, sie hätte gerade ihr unkommerziellstes Werk herausgebracht - und es sei nicht nötig, diese Musik zu verstehen, sie müsse nur gefühlt werden? Im Fall von SCALD aus Nordirland ist es in der Tat schwer, zu einem objektiven Urteil zu gelangen. Denn die vier Musiker haben nun mit "Vermiculatus" ein Album veröffentlicht, das einen einzigen schleppend-instrumentalen Song von 47 Minuten Länge enthält - also bewusst auf einen Sänger verzichtet. So viel zu den nüchternen Fakten.

Und das Gefühl? Die Klänge auf "Vermiculatus" sind durchaus ansprechend arrangiert. Und geben sich gewollt progressiv. Kaum ein langsames Gitarrenriff, was dem anderen gleicht. Viele Breaks. Viele ausklingende Gitarrenspielereien. Ein paar Keyboards im Hintergrund. Und immer wieder Pausen, die als Start für neue Tonkonstruktionen dienen. Es ist anstrengend, dieser Musik zu folgen. Ihren Akustikparts, ihren plötzlichen Aufwallungen, die nur stückweise bleiben, weil sofort ein neues Thema wieder angespielt wird. Es fehlt der rote Faden. Oder gibt es ihn doch? Liegt er darin, ein Album zu kreieren, welches außer dem Zelebrieren von Langsamkeit in ihren Höhepunkten keine anderen Stimmungen kennt? Minutenlang dumpfen während "Vermiculatus" einfach nur Trommeln im Hintergrund, die von seltsam tiefen elektronischen Beats abgelöst werden. Ist es das Konzept, dass zu solchen Klängen große Ideen in der realen Welt entstehen sollen? Oder wollen SCALD einfach nur verwirren? Es scheint fast so. Denn der zweite Teil von "Vermiculatus" ist laut Plattenfirma schlicht eine ambient-elektronische Rekonstruktion des ersten Teils, der ja noch auf traditionellen Metal-Instrumenten basiert. Auch das auf der CD befindliche Video präsentiert sich als starkstromgeschwängertes Drogenexperiment auf eher experimenteller Ebene, in den Hauptrollen eine CGA-Frau und eine Art fliegender Wurm. Bei Fragen über die Qualität dieses Albums wenden Sie sich bitte an ihre lokale Drogenberatung - oder hören selbst hin. Grenzwertig.



Fabrizio Garau

Scald: "Vermiculatus"

"Out - out are the lights - out all! / And, over each quivering form, / The curtain, a funeral pall, / Comes down with the rush of a storm, / While the angels, all pallid and wan, / Uprising, unveiling, affirm / That the play is the tragedy, "Man" / And its hero the Conqueror Worm."

Da Edgar Allan Poe, The Conqueror Worm, 1843

Vermiculatus, 1) a forma di verme, 2) lavorato a mosaico, 3) screziato, trapunto finemente

Definizione tratta da Luigi Castiglioni, Scevola Mariotti, IL Vocabolario della lingua latina

Non può andare avanti così. Qualcosa non funziona nelle nostre teste. Non ci molla mai e lascia segni sul nostro volto insonne. Siamo Jeff Goldblum ne "La Mosca" e ci guardiamo allo specchio.


Adesso siamo quello che ci sta crescendo dentro. Il nostro cambiamento fisico – è un circolo vizioso – ci convince che siamo malati, accelerando così la nostra fine. Ammesso (e non concesso) che quella che noi chiamiamo "malattia", non sia invece la nostra condizione naturale, ammesso (e non concesso) che "salute" e "malattia" non siano solo punti di vista.
È così da quando siamo nati, continuerà in seguito, finché – stremati - non ci spegneremo.
Questo è "Vermiculatus", quarantasette minuti e ventotto secondi per descrivere la "tragedia umana". Niente voce, niente testi: oltre al suono c'è solo la forza evocativa dell'immagine, sia essa statica, come nel caso dell'eccellente artwork, sia essa in movimento, come nel caso del filmato contenuto nell'album. Una delle grandi fortune degli Scald si chiama Paul McCarroll (batteria, elettronica), che si muove anche nell'ambito delle cosiddette "arti visive", pescando in un immaginario che sarebbe riduttivo definire splatter/horror, specie se si considera lo splatter solo disgusto e non anche e soprattutto provocazione. È così dunque che gli Scald riescono a raggiungere una sorta di "unità d'effetto" indipendentemente dal medium utilizzato.
Il resto (la maggior parte) lo fa la musica dei "tre più uno" di Belfast. La prima mezzora è la sintesi degli opposti: l'immediatezza punk dilatata fino a raggiungere dimensioni progressive, o forse jazz. Gli Scald rappresentano il verme che all'improvviso scava nel nostro cervello alternando momenti di calma, nei quali la chitarra suona scarna, a esplosioni grind e soffocanti riff death metal. Talvolta le parti leggere e quelle pesanti sono le stesse, solo proposte in un crescendo di distorsione e amplificazione. In questa prima parte non c'è di fatto nessuna ripetizione o nessun riff portante (o qualsiasi cosa che funga da guida), ma solo lunghe tessiture che ricordano il movimento post-rock e richiamano alla mente gli Isis, con i quali Pete e soci condividono il rifiuto della forma-canzone e il sangue misto: Neurosis, metal, tastiere discrete ma fondamentali, qualche reminiscenza dei Pink Floyd. Probabilmente gli Scald, interessati più all'aspetto cronenberghiano dell'aggettivo, non sanno che "Vermiculatus" significhi in terza battuta anche "trapunto finemente", eppure – magia (solo magia?) delle parole – hanno proprio cucito insieme violenze, orlandole d'ambient. Nel corso dell'ultimo quarto d'ora la parte rock viene infatti ri-presa e ri-pensata elettronicamente. Qui ciascuno potrà trovare diversi riferimenti: il primo ovviamente è a quel "più uno", ovvero il tastierista Glyn Smyth, e ai suoi frammenti ambientali presenti in "Headworm", penultimo disco del gruppo che rappresenta, per utilizzare una metafora biologica e dunque scaldiana, uno dei germi di Vermiculatus. Altri troveranno similitudini con certi Coil, di sicuro col filone dark ambient della Cold Meat Industry; chi ascolta metal magari penserà a "Disguised Masters" degli Arcturus, dove le chitarre erano ancora lì, del tutto irriconoscibili, stravolte dal trattamento elettronico.

"Vermiculatus" è un disco coraggioso, completo e ostico. Necessita di quarantasette minuti e ventotto secondi della vostra attenzione, e di qualche momento successivo per rifletterci su. Non dovrebbe assolutamente sfuggire a chi si è lasciato affascinare dai succitati Isis e dagli Jesu di Justin Broadrick (Napalm Death, Godflesh), oltre che dagli ultimi Ephel Duath. Parimenti coraggiosa è la code666, ormai etichetta d'avanguardia maniacalmente dedita alla pubblicazione di band dall'identità di frontiera, vittime di radiazioni creative, creature transgeniche (transoniche) come gli Scald, apolidi che si trovano al confine di più mondi musicali, non a caso – nella realtà e fuori dalle metafore - atei in una terra di fanatici.

L'eroe è il verme trionfante.


Harm Magazine

For the ones that are familiar with underground label Code666, they know when they see a new release, that it's not going to be an ordinary type of music or copycat. Avant-garde, adventurous and daring are the words describing the label and its artists. Scald is hailing from Ireland and this new album called Vermiculatus goes very well with the philosophy of the label because it is daring. Made of one single track, instrumental of course, this album takes you from nowhere and leaves you in the middle of nowhere! Abstract, progressive opus with a soundtrack feel. Moving from calm/ ambient to heavy / intense with dark passages reminiscent to King Crimson, Scald is then twisting into the spaced out/ psychedelic realm. The result of all this is some sort of darken industrial décor in its last 15minutes or so. Not an easy listen, especially in one sitting but still a pretty intriguing one if you happen to have an open mind, artistic ear and a liking for the weirdness found in the music world.

7.5 /10



Nordirische Freigeister in Sachen Metal sind hier am Werk. Mit einem normalen Album lässt sicher Stoff mal wieder nicht vergleichen. Hier ein paar Stichwörter, die zur Einordnung helfen sollen: 1 Track mit 47 Minuten rein instrumental, nix wiederholt sich im ersten Teil, der zweite Part ist die ambiente Rekonstruktion von Teil 1, ein Videotrack auf CD-ROM (zu sehen sind schwarzweiße Drahtgittermodelle im Stroboskobverfahren) soll das Werk vervollständigen, dazu der Leitspruch im Promoinfo: "It is not necessary to understand, only to be aware". Wer meint, mit dieser Musik sein musikalisches (Bewußt-)Sein bereichern zu können, dann bitte tue er einen Blick auf . Mehr möchte ich an dieser Stelle zu dem Album gar nicht sagen, weil man so etwas nicht bewerten kann, sondern nur dem Künstler seine Freiheiten lassen kann. (eller)


Chain D.L.K.

Scald are a truly atypical metal band from Northern Ireland formed by Peter Dempsey (bass), Paul McCarroll (drums), Michael Tierney (drums) and Glyn Smyth (drums). Yep, no vocals, not even samples, which for a heavy band is already quite remarkable, and a daring choice anyway. "Vermiculatus" features a single 47-minute track and a video developing the band's concept, based on the "metaphorical representations of the parasitic worm as psychological states" (to quote the press sheet for lack of further information). I found the audio part really interesting, though not always coherent and fluid. Their label defines them "progressive post-grind", but bear in mind that, except a few blast beats and frantic passages, Scald usually opt for heavy, complex mid tempos - let's say this is more similar to Neurosis than to Discordance Axis or Nasum. The oppressive, sludgy parts are skilfully varied with geometrical breaks - I'd be tempted to use the "math rock" tag if it didn't sound ridiculous or misleading in this context. The weak parts are, for me, the more traditionally heavy metal solos, and, here and there, a bit of baroque pomp - "progressive" in the negative sense of the term. But I'm making this sound worse than it is: it's actually a very nice disc of original heavy music, and personal tastes aside this is one of the most original metal records that I've heard in a long time. The second part of "Vermiculatus" is a sort of ambient industrial re-working of the previous instrumental session: hectic and much more uncompromising than I expected, it suffers from its fragmentary nature, but it's a welcome add to the whole head trip. And finally,the video track ("Vermiculatus B1"): whoah!! It only lasts 3 minutes and a half, but it's brilliant. Imagine high-tech images of mutating bodies, with the worm theme going on. Here, the electronic sounds actually work perfectly, as they merge with the frantic rhythm of the images. Very creative, well realized, and totally deranged visuals; don't expect anything close to a promo clip, or something you could see on MTV.

rate: 3,5/5


Live 4 Metal Webzine

This Northern Ireland quartet are new to me, so some research was in order on their past. A quick read and a few downloads later of their previous material tells me that Scald have gone from early stages of grind to a much more progressive outfit. What sets this new offering apart from their more recent recordings is that there are no vocals anywhere on Vermiculatus. Scald have a fixation with the concept of worms and worm-like formations and movements (vermiculation I think the process is called) to such an extent that the band have tried to produce the aural equivalent of the process. Putting this CD into my player and seeing that it was one track of over 47 minutes gave me a degree of apprehension. Scald are not the first band to experiment with 1 song affairs, as albums such as Edge of Sanity's Crimson, Green Carnation's Light of Day and Meshuggah's I, have all tried the idea with varying amounts of success. This album takes you on a vivid auditory experience by trying to encapsulate the listener in a series of soundscapes that progress from simplistic and melodic interludes to skull crushing and truly terrifying assaults on your senses. The instrumental composition is divided into 2 sections, the first part comprising about 25 minutes of unique non-duplicated material followed by a remaining ambient section. Influences are not really relevant as Scald have an inimitable style of their own, but for those needing reference points, there are various traits taken from Voivod, Godflesh, Head of David and indeed the harmonious aspects do remind of Green Carnation at times during the metal section. The album starts off very serenely before the huge, crushing guitar sound envelops you. As the music progresses no part is underdone or overstays its welcome as the musicians interweave their instruments with the synth and sound effects. No one instrument has a dominant edge, but Michael's guitar work is particularly awesome throughout and worked for me. The metal section closes cleverly as the instruments trail off one by one until you're left with a basic drum beat that eventually ceases as the synths and sound effects muscle their way in. From here on the listener is taken on a twisting and coiling journey of “ambient reconstruction of the performance part” as the band put it. To fully appreciate the album, especially the ambient phase, headphones are definitely essential as they amplify the feeling of claustrophobia and density tenfold. At times the sound completely encases your head to such an extent that there's almost a suffocating feeling. Various sounds and effects materialise in different areas with headphones on and made this is much more engaging listen. To finish the whole experience off, there is a three minute animation which is essentially the third and final phase of the concept. What you get is a disturbing rapid fire set of flashing wire frame images of humans and worms as they mutate from one form to another. The transposition of worm and human features is done on an interchanging base and set against a backdrop of creeping sound effects and noises that really gets under your skin. It almost looks like the images are tormenting each other as they intermingle.
I gave this album multiple listens at various times, even putting the animated sequence on repeat whilst listening to whole thing in the dark. This is definitely an album to listen to on your own using headphones to fully absorb the atmosphere the band have created. The release is limited to 999 copies only in a deluxe oversized digisleeve, so if want a unique and absorbing experience then this is for you


Lords of Metal

It took a lot of years, but almost twenty years after the first hype of instrumental albums, the last couple of years we could say there's a new interest in making significant instrumental . Where we used to hear all those string masturbators trying to beat Yngwie on the square millimetre of the guitar neck in the late eighties, nowadays it's more the extreme metal wherein the vocalist is strangled. With bands as Kinski, Capricorns, Dysrhythmia, Mono and mainly also dronedoomers like Sunn 0))), Boris and Hyatari there isn't any singer around, and if there's one, he's only used as an "instrumental device". Scald from North Ireland releases an album that you can place in this category. The band exists already since the early nineties, does have a few records released, but for me it's a new acquaintance.

And the first half of the 48 minutes of the sole song on this 'Vermiculatus' (is that Latin for "cellulites through constipation by vermicelli"?) is a very adventurous acquaintance. An provisory, raw recorded field trip through dark riffs, dissonant rhythms, swampy passages and doomy tribal percussion. A lot of Swans and Godflesh, but with a more loosen structure and texture. Sometimes it sounded like a progressive and lighter version of Khanate. In the second part of those first twenty-four minutes there's also an occasional spastic noise attack that should please people who dig Cephalic Carnage and Ephel Duath.

Unfortunately, the second part sucks big time. First the band slows down an started to play some tedious minimal metal on one guitar string, a snare and a piano. Less is definitely not more in this case. After a couple of minutes the band started to push on all kinds of distortion pedals, effect buttons and especially all kinds of prepared electronics. This results in a twenty-minutes long ear terrorising soundscape of experimental glitch, free expression, distorted noise, avant-garde electro jazz and, well, you can call it whatever you want, but it's basically a lot of bullshit. Just fucking with fucked-up sounds. People who are familiar with the most twisted electronic albums on independent labels like Staalpaat and Hat Hut will probably understand what kind of "music" we are talking about (eRikm & Fennesz, and some releases of Banabila and Muslimgauze). According to the band you should see it as part of the art concept 'Vermiculatus', which also includes a just as irritating stroboscopic video animation on the enhanced section of this album, but that's just a poor excuse for this inaudible experiment.

These guys are strange, but fascinating blokes. No wonder that Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault, but also fulltime dope-expert and ex-Exit 13) is one of their VIP-fans: freaks unite… But it's still a pity that the second part of 'Vermiculatus' ends up with electronic arty-farty-shit. Therefore the first part of 'Vermiculated' doesn't get the points it deserves.

Evil Dr. Smith diagnoses: 73/100


Walls of Fire

Scald aus Nordirland legen mit „Vermiculatus“ ihr Zweitwerk vor. Das Album besteht aus nur einem Song, der jedoch eine Spielzeit von 47:30 Minuten aufweist. Seitens der Plattenfirma wird die Mucke der Iren als Progressive Post-Grind tituliert. Damit hat das Werk allerdings überhaupt nichts zu tun.Vielmehr kann man den Stil grob in die Isis, Cult Of Luna, Lumen usw. Schublade einordnen. Auf „Vermiculatus“ sind weder Blastbeats noch Uptempopassagen zu vernehmen.
Der Silberling wartet mit atmosphärischen Klängen, bei denen sich akustik Parts mit Powerriffing abwechseln. Das hört sich alles interessant an, zieht mich allerdings nicht so in den Bann, wie die Alben der zuvor genannten Bands. Mag auch daran liegen, dass kein Part des Songs wiederholt wird und somit die hypnotisierende Wirkung entfällt, die gerade emotionale Mucke diese Prägung ausmacht. Der zweite Teil des Songs besteht aus einer Rekonstruktion des ersten Parts im Ambientstyle. Dieser Part haut mich allerdings auch nicht vom Hocker, da man so was bereits auf vielen anderen Veröffentlichungen bereits besser gehört hat.
Trotz allem ist „Vermiculatus“ kein schlechtes Album. Die Jungs verstehen ihr Handwerk und lassen zu keiner Sekunde Langeweile aufkommen, auch wen ganz auf Gesang verzichtet wird. Auch die Idee Saclds, einen solchen Song zu schreiben ist sehr lobenswert, da sie mit so einem Track keinerlei kommerziellen Ziele verfolgen, sondern ihrer Kreativität freien Lauf lassen.
Das auf der Cd enthaltene Video unterstreicht den künstlerischen Aspekt der Band. Drei Sterne für die Mucke und ´nen halben für die Kompromisslosigkeit ein



Metal fan

Het gebeurt niet dagelijks dat je een metalband uit Noord Ierland voor je kiezen krijgt, en zeker niet eentje zo apart als Scald . De heren bestaan al sinds 1993, maar het is pas sinds dit album dat men onderdak gevonden heeft bij het Code 666 label.
Begonnen als een crust/sludge/thrashy achtige band is men langzaam aan geëvolueerd in een wat progressieve grindcoreband ten tijde van hun vorige album Headworm . Op Vermiculatus is hier echter weinig meer van te bespeuren. Vermiculatus is namelijk vooral een erg ambitieus (en ook lichtelijk pretentieus) 47 minuten lang instrumentaal stuk muziek dat je het best kan omschrijven als een mengeling van post/prog-rock en doom-metal.
Dat is echter alleen het eerste deel van deze muzikale reis. Halverwege dit album slaat het namelijk compleet om en men eindigt met ambient/noise dat door moet gaan voor een reconstructie van het eerste deel. Verder staat op dit album nog een cd-rom noise track met een vrij bizarre videoclip.
De band laat verder niet veel los over het concept van het album, maar het kan gezien worden als een wormvormige parasiet die dient als metafoor voor verschillende psychologische staten. Volgens het bandstatement is het verder niet nodig het concept te begrijpen, zolang je er maar bewust van bent.
Vrij zware kost dus dit Vermiculatus , vooral het laatste stuk kan niet echt de aandacht vasthouden en is duidelijk alleen geschikt voor de avontuurlijke luisteraar. Het haalt de eindscore voor dit album dan ook wat naar beneden. Maar al met al is dit een erg interessant project, vooral het eerste gedeelte is zeer de moeite waard.

Score: 78 / 100




In circolazione dal 1993, ma approdati al debutto soltanto nel 2003 con “Headworm”, i nordirlandesi tornano con un nuovo prodotto che consiste in una sola traccia di oltre quarantasette minuti e una traccia CD-rom, il tutto accompagnato da digisleeve CD di lusso limitato a 999 copie. Il brano, strumentale a differenza del platter precedente, è privo di titolo, e nelle sue innumerevoli variazioni della prima parte spazia dall'avantgarde estremo, al prog complesso, fino a includere il post-grind e lo sludge/doom, senza ripetere strutture già proposte, mentre la seconda sezione è una ricostruzione ambient della parte suonata. Non c'è un vero e proprio concept, perché il quartetto non intende farsi capire, ma soltanto rendere partecipi di condizioni emozionali e neurologiche trasmesse attraverso il verme parassitico che da il titolo all'album. La contrapposizione tra generi è perfettamente eseguita, e in questo caso merita assolutamente una citazione l'ingegnere del suono, che non ha fallito il mixaggio neanche una volta nella gestione dei vari passaggi di stile, ma anche di volume e suoni; nemmeno un secondo sembra fuori luogo o messo a caso, e alla fine di questo pesante CD vi sembrerà d'aver appena terminato un viaggio solitario lungo un mese in una grotta per scoprire il significato dell'Apocalisse e dell'aldilà. Un plauso al mastodontico e certosino lavoro del trio, mentre l'operato conclusivo di Glyn Smyth va al di là di ogni aspettativa: un assolo di synth frammentato da effetti sinistri e clangori cibernetici ossessivi per venti minuti fanno sì che questo disco sia apprezzato non solo dai metallari più evoluti, ma anche dai clienti abituali della Old Europa Café e delle sue ramificazioni. Di certo non un genere per tutti, ma esiste qualcosa di valore che lo sia?

Autore: Marco Ganzerli


Metal Legacy

RATE: 8/10




(2006) 48 min.

12345678910 At first I thought “Vermiculatus” was like a trip into the dark side of the moon, but I was wrong. It's more like a journey into other solar systems; a peek into time before time; a journey through a burning brain, and so on. I wasn't prepared for this. I knew Scald was a band without limitations and boundaries, but this new album is just beyond my imagination. It's going to be hard to describe this, but I'll try.

“Vermiculatus” is a progressive album, and I really mean progressive. It doesn't have complex rhythmic drum patterns or wild technical guitar riffs, so don't expect anything in the vein of Dream Theater. “Vermiculatus” includes only one single track, which is kind of divided into two different halves. The first half contains normal band playing, with several different parts that alternate between harder and calmer material. There are no choruses or vocals and the song doesn't seem to have a structure of any kind, so the music is really hard to get. The second half doesn't contain any drums and just about no guitars either, but it's more like a twisted ambient piece containing dark mystic atmosphere, weird noises and hypnotic soundscapes. And surprisingly it works so well, that you want to close your eyes and really concentrate on what you are hearing.

The album also has a CD-rom track, which is a short animated film that tries to make this experience even deeper than it already is. The animation looks like a Kraftverk-video enhanced with a bad LSD-trip and you'll have to see it for yourself. There's no point to trying to categorize it, or the music either. All I can say, that the animation is probably one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen. Don't expect to understand this on first listening/seeing. You have been warned.

Imhotep Rating: 7/10

User Rating for Album: 10/10


Metal March

It's late at night and I honestly don't know if I'll be able to write a review worthy of this band's complexity. First of all let me warn all those into commercial stuff to stop reading right now because you won't find anything worth your money here.
The name is Scald and they are from Northern Ireland. They were formed back in 1993 and released a considerate number of demos until actually getting signed. I can't talk about their previous work because I know nothing about it, but you can see these guys are label material.

"Vermiculatus" is the name of their latest full-length album, which is also their second. I read somewhere it was also the band's most experimental, innovative and un-commercial project up to date, but I had already mentioned this last part.
First thing I noticed about this album, and which I really hate by the way, is that it has only one track, having this one almost 48 minutes. It just makes it impossible to just pop it up in your stereo if you want to listen to just one song because these kind of albums are usually played from one end to the other. And that would also be quite useful here because the first half of this song is actually quite good, but I can't say the same about the other one. The first is more metal oriented, with some instrumental Sludge/Doom Metal, but the second one is more atmospheric, I don't really know how to put my finger to it, but it has nothing to do with the first half.

Scald turn out to be a weird band. There, I said it. One song only, first half not bad at all, the second not so good. But for some reason they made me curious to check out their other album, so we'll see.


Blood Chamber

In düstere Instrumental-Gefilde entführen uns SCALD. Die schwere und dunkle Soundmasse verdichtet sich bei diesem Output zu einem Song, der zwischen sperrigen Progressiv-Ausflügen und Death Metal-Eruptionen tendiert. Doomige Parts enthält das Konglomerat ebenso wie leicht schwebende Akustikebenen, die in Meshuggah ähnlicher Monotonie zelebriert werden.

Der Song unterteilt sich in verschiedene Ebenen, die einerseits klassische Heavy Metal-Elemente beinhalten, doomige und progressive Anleihen besitzen und andererseits auch von effektvollen Synths leben. Es geht verhalten los, bis die Stimmung in schwere Ausbrüche umschlägt, um dann später in die Stille zu pulsen. Bis bedrohlich anmutende Rhythmen noch einmal kurz aufflackern, die in ein weißes Rauschen münden. Elektro-Ambient klingt leise, aber nicht minder finster.

Dieses Projekt scheint sich selbst nicht zu limitieren. Wo andere Bands an ihrer Vielseitigkeit scheitern und keine klare Linie besitzen, kann SCALD verschiedene Einflüsse und Effekte gekonnt kombinieren.
Überraschenderweise langweilt diese Instrumentalplatte nicht so sehr wie manch anderes aus diesem Genre. Falls doch noch ein Shouter hinzu kommen sollte, müsste er perfekt in dieses Musikuniversum passen.



Capita a volte di non riuscire a percepire l'essenza di certi ‘disegni' musicali, talmente anticonvenzionali da rendere arduo un giudizio definitivo. Sorte assimilabile ai nord irlandesi Scald, vista la totale mancanza di similitudini alla loro proposta musical-visiva, materializzatasi nel qui presente ‘Vermiculatus', platter anticonvenzionale sin dalla scaletta, contraddistinta da un'unica song strumentale di circa 45 primi, a sua volta divisa in tre parti: una ‘elettrica', una ‘ambient' ed uno scioccante video a corollario. La definizione ‘progressive post-grind', inserita nelle note introduttive, non è tuttavia calzante, visti segni distintivi più attigui a certo post-rock di matrice statunitense. Un forte alone mistico è distinguibile per tutta la durata del dischetto, trovando apice nella parte ‘ambientale', alquanto disturbante nella sua estenuante durata. Alcune assonanze nella struttura sonora, rimandano a certo spleen neurosiano regalando emozioni, ma allo stesso modo appiattendo il tomo su idee già codificate. In definitiva un lavoro di ‘frontiera', ove l'ispirazione non rende perfettamente giustizia ad un coraggio compositivo ragguardevole, macchiando così l'operato generale. Certamente ‘Vermiculatus' si pone al di fuori del mercato metallico odierno, ma allo stesso tempo si configura a manifesto di una società moderna decadente e terribilmente ancorata al proprio credo, in cui le aspirazioni umane non svolgono, di fatto, una funzione primaria.



Scald's demos have gained respectful nods from Terrorizer across nearly ten years and signing to a label daring enough to take them onboard has finally given the band space to further the ingeniously contorted creative development that has compromised not one iota of individuality in that decade. This unique band's cold, spacey and decidedly extraterrestrial take on post-grind is truly singular, with each release managing to communicate a darker and more cerebral concept than the one before it. 'Vermiculatus', a single track, 47 minute exploration of the mind's darker recesses sees the band drop their usual gnashing vocal in order to deliver a crushing instrumental timeline of birth and decay, overarched by a sonic, artistic and conceptual metaphor within which lies a sunless microcosm of futility.
Roughly divisible into two halves - a crunching atmospheric evolution of their grind past, then it's reassembly through ambient noise - the sibilant, wormlike coursing and tunnelling of its many movements, before a final bleak release, is essential for its very difference.



Zero Tolerance Magazine

Not so much an album as a project, Vermiculatus is an ambitious artistic expression from Northern Ireland's Scald. Once again taking the concept of the parasitic worm as a metaphor for various mental conditions, Scald have produced an audio-visual piece which narrates the story of a human life from start to finish. The audio part of the project is a single instrumental track and is itself divided into two sections. The first is a complexly constructed full band performance which twists and clashes as it traces the interaction of the conscious and sub-conscious mind. This is followed by a more ambient piece which is essentially a reconstruction of the performance part. The visual element of the project comes courtesy of ‘Vermiculatus B1', a profoundly unsettling short animated film which further explores the project's concept and is accompanied by another re-working of the soundtrack. Unsurprisingly, Vermiculatus isn't the kind of work that can be dipped in an out of in the search of a quick musical fix. Instead it requires, nay demands, your undivided attention. Hard work, but well worth it.
calum harvie


Masterful Magazine

Ale wkreca ten album. Zawsze mialem jakas slabosc do jednoutworowych produkcji, a taka jest wlasnie "Vermiculatus". Jeden dlugi, calkowicie instrumentalny kawalek stanowiacy polaczenie czegos w rodzaju eksperymantalnego sludge doom i ambient. Nie znalem wczesniej muzyki, pochodzacego z Irlandii Pln. Scald, ale z tego co sie orientuje to grali kiedys grind - teraz z tego zostalo tylko jakies wspomnienie tu i tam. Glówna esencje muzyki stanowia natomiast rozwlekle motywy kojarzace sie z rzeczami typu Isis i im podobnym - raz wolne i ciezkie, kiedy indziej zahaczajace albo o psychodeliczny doom, albo wlasnie z rzadka uderzajace w rejony stylistycznych korzeni zespolu. Wychodzi z tego doskonala relaksacyjna sciezka dzwiekowa, z której bardzo stopniowo saczy sie pokrecona, wciagajaca energia, która w drugiej czesci albumu przeistacza sie w swoje odwzorowanie w formie czysto ambientalnej. Dobra rzecz - nie tylko dla milosników ziolowych wspomagaczy, ale dla wszystkich poszukujacych dobrych eksperymantalnych produkcji, w których nie dominuje elektronika.

Olo - 8


Tartarean Desire

No doubt: we´re before an exotic band, to say the least. Scald doesn´t have anything to do with Northern mythology. In fact they hail from Northern Ireland. They´re not a celtic posse either. This release has been supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Needless to say this tawdry writer whose lines you´re reading right now didn´t know any band from there. They play... hummm, time for the dub. Progressive psychodelic instrumental doom metal? Something similar, if nothing else. Reviews are allegedly explanatory and I´ll try to do my best. Let´s go for something more about it, then. “Vermiculatus” is made off a single track lasting over 47 minutes. As you´ve noticed yet, there are no vocals here. The changes are continuous. The colour of the notes is manifold and kaleidoscopic. It sounds weird, and it really is. The process of listening and understanding of the whole album is certainly tough. Those of you prone to use the skip button will be disappointed if this is not for you. And let me imagine “Vermiculatus” is not an easy thing to taste. To be concise, I´ve got the impression this is an album that is constantly failing to take off. An unavoidable erratic feeling endowed with constant tempo changes and stops, it´s the responsible for that. Yes, it´s only one track in the album, and that´s both the hammer and the anvil the listener is placed between. Too movements, lack of thickness in the songmaking, sparse focus of the structures. Multitude of bits conform the track but the overall feeling is very loose and inconsistent.
Ok, we´re not reviewing a concept metal release like the superb Edge Of Sanity´s “Crimson” in terms of conventional melodic focus and patterns, I assume it. Anyway, ambient/avantgarde music has got its own mysteries and tricks, and these guys still haven´t acquired the powers to rule them. The sound is an amalgam of varied landscapes showing evocative doomster mellow sequences, ambient intros, heavy riffing, industrial blinks and other gloomy sounds more akin to traditional eerie soundtracks. The guitar chords, the most prominent instrument to remark, often exhibit a slight dissonance in the vein of some bleak chords à la Esoteric. The listener receives a constant, fast slideshow of sounds hard to digest due to the mentioned lack of focus. Original and different from other typical releases? Of course. Er... and what about the quality? “Vermiculatus” is made to be excessive, magnificent and maybe epic in a certain way, but in the end it stays just as a brave album able to be categorised as incidental doom music or progressive ambient metal. Good in execution and sound, weak in the songmaking and global arrangement, this is just for fans of the unknown and bizarre.




Audio Savant

Vermiculatus is a single 47 minute track, and marks a slight departure for the three piece from Ireland. Unlike previous Scald material, Vermiculatus is a completely instrumental affair, which gives each of Scald's member's alot of room to stretch their arms and rest their ravaged voices. The first 25 minutes of the album are considered the performance half, with a multitude of riffs and ideas explored, but never repeated. The second half of the album is an ambient/noise reconstruction of the performance section,with rising percussion, fried electronics, piano and haunting drones. Unlike other single track albums released in recent years, Vermiculatus unfolds like a single song, and the transition from the performance section to the reconstruction is seamless.
Also included is a short animated clip called Vermiculatus b1, which features music “stripped and shredded from Vermiculatus b,” the reconstructed section of the song. This release comes packaged in a fold out digipack, with a slipcase for the CD. The package as a whole is stunning, and makes this a necessary buy, not just another album to be downloaded. Experimental metal album of the year, and for sure this will make my top five.


Nocturnal Hall

What SCALD unleashes upon mankind is a damn ambitious work! Hailing from Northern Ireland these gents deliver exactly one track and – to visualize – a movie (didn't work for me). Running over 45 minutes SCALD burn down a firework of grindcore, metal, doom, acoustic passages and progressive rock, make other musicians looking pale. Not even one part gets repeated, what also means, the recognition value is low, but that's not the point.
You better understand Vermiculatus as a soundtrack. It musically might not remind of heroes such as Neurosis or Isis, but the created atmosphere is definitely similar. This feeling gets boosted when this track turns into a pure ambient soundscape after around 30 minutes, accenting the soundtrack character. Interestingly there is a red thread kept thru the entire album, picking up the one or the other theme again.
A thrilling and versatile work, not only for die-hard fans.




The promotional blurbs, that accompanies the promotional copy of a CD, rarely deliver what they promise. In the case of the Irish experimental grinders Scald the blurb promises the following: "the first section (...) is a complex composition of no repeated parts". So, I was expecting a piece of music completely void of repetition, but instead would consist solely of a progression of sounds like an immense expanding sound scape. Furthermore, since they are described "progressive post-grind", I was expecting to hear this daring composition combined with the traditional guitar and vocal sounds of grindcore. You can imagine that I was rather excited when I popped this disc in my CD-player.

Alas, alas. The lack of structure seems to mean that they avoid verse-chorus-verse structures like so many bands in, for instance, the post-rock genre. They also rely heavily on quiet-loud-quiet dynamics (again like many bands in the post-rock genre). However, the fact that Scald's loud parts are very metal (apparently they started out playing grindcore) gives Scald a quite unique sound: it more or less sounds like Meshuggah meets Mogwai meets Neurosis. While the album is not as daring as the promotional blurb promises, it is still pretty good and pretty different from most stuff I have ever heard. The second half of the first and only song on Vermiculatus is a reconstruction of the first part begins. While this is all done decently, it makes the record fizzle out and makes me drop my attention, which is a bit of a shame after an interesting first half of the song.

8.2 Pure holocaust



There was a story on public radio not too long ago about an unfortunate pet python that, after polishing off his monthly rabbit, for some unknown reason, proceeded to consume the blanket that was in his aquarium. The whole queen size blanket, in one sitting (is there another way to eat a blanket?). They said it must have taken the dumb beast about six hours to polish off the bedding, which was later removed via surgery. That snake and his deed remind me of Scald's Vermiculatus in a couple of ways—first, the band seems to be fixated on worms (often metaphorically) and their vermiculate movements, and more importantly, consuming Vermiculatus is a surprisingly substantial undertaking. This album is easy to enjoy from spin one, but actually absorbing it so that all the pieces fall into place and become familiar requires time and patience. In other words, the first bite comes easy—the rest, you have to work at.

I was first exposed to Northern Ireland's Scald through their debut album, a pitch black, acerbic mindfuck called Headworm. It too was a so-called challenging album, but cut from a different cloth. For Vermiculatus, the band dropped the vocals altogether and added a full time keyboardist, and has joined the likes of Edge of Sanity, Green Carnation, Sleep, Meshuggah, and Fantomas by crafting an album consisting of only a single track. Interestingly, during its forty-seven minute duration the song moves through several variations of its theme without relying on repeating passages. Think of it as the anti-Dopesmoker. This tactic gives the album an abstract and more loosely structured feel, but the material seldom seems to wander. Vermiculatus is made up of two halves. The first, described as progressive post-grind, uses both clean and heavy riffing patterns that utilize plenty of breathing room between bursts, creating a spacey atmosphere skillfully furthered by keyboard effect accompaniment. The band builds and maintains tension by providing a nice variety of tempo and texture, and comparisons to Voivod come to mind a few times during the first half of the album.

The second half of Vermiculatus consists of an ambient reconstruction and development of its first movement. Now, ambient can often be a take it or leave it kind of thing, but in this case, the material is both well executed and compliments well its heavier predecessor. Vermiculatus is surprisingly engrossing for an album of this type, and doesn't ever feel like it runs out of steam, although admittedly, the first half is more compelling than the second. The album is solemn and foreboding, while also remaining thoughtful and artistic. Like Fantomas on Delirium Cordia, Scald also seems to be doing some instrumental abstract storytelling on this album, which appears to revolve around the life cycle and foreign parasites as a metaphor for mental disorder. The album's theme is furthered on the brief Quicktime video titled “Vermiculatus B1”, a black and white computer animation piece that, unless it forces you into an epileptic fit, provides some cool and disturbing visuals that elaborate on the album's theme. The video is the work of drummer Paul McCarroll, who's also responsible for the outstanding artwork on the foldout packaging. Scald has succeeded in creating an album as intriguing and original as anything you'll hear all year. It's no wonder the band landed on Code666, a label that regularly offers up tantalizing specialties of the eclectic and bizarre.

Matt Mooring

Production: 5/6
Songwriting: 5/6
Musicianship: 4.5/6


Chronicles of Chaos

_Vermiculatus_ is one of those albums that cause reviewers to make up long chains of adjectives to describe what it sounds like. In one word however, it sounds aimless to me. It may be adventurous and ambitious, but its instrumental and noise meanderings fail to capture my interest.The album consists of a single track, near fifty minutes in length, structurally divided in half. During the first half, Scald mix progressive, jazzy tendencies with some virtually uncategorizable metal elements. The music changes continuously throughout its duration, but always remains instrumental. The second half apparently reprises the same musical themes, but does so with ambient and noise elements. Finally, there is also a multimedia section, which includes a digital animated movie depicting a sequence of writhing wireframe bodies.
If the result of this attempt at an objective description of what I found on _Vermiculatus_ sparked your interest, then by all means give it a try; you may be able to find a purpose to it all, something to keep you interested. To me however, the first half alternates between some listenable experiments with dissonant riffs and a succession of bland segments that seem to come from nowhere and lead nowhere. The second half tends to fade into background noise far too quickly to make me consider any artistic merit it may have for what it tries to achieve. The animated film provides a few moments of passing curiosity, but little else. In other words, while there may be something relevant here for certain listeners, I am definitely not one of them.



Lunar Hypnosis

It would be difficult to describe a work so large and ambitious as "Vermiculatus" in just a few sentences, although this is the task laid before myself as I set to write. With their latest effort, Scald, a commonly-described "prog-grind" quartet from Northern Ireland, have taken a huge step up from their previous outing "Headworm" and created a conceptual, single track, forty seven and a half minute monster. To be honest, the commonly-ascribed tag of "prog-grind" hardly does the band justice, as Vermiculatus draws stylistic influence from not only grind, death metal, and progressive music, but also from dark ambient, noise, doom metal, electronics and inevitably many other eclectic sources which I cannot even identify.

So back to Vermiculatus: the album (in summary) starts off slowly, occasionally breaking between little snippets of grind-like segments and quieter clean guitar work. Eventually, this builds up in intensity over the next 15-25 minutes. It never really appears to reach any kind of climax, but it is always changing and morphing as the direction of the work evolves in a through-composed manner with no recurring themes or motifs whatsoever. Somewhere around the middle of the chaos, there is an increase of noise and ambient motifs beginning to slowly but surely dominate the work until by the very end the composition seems to have completely shifted direction into a soundscape/noisescape before it finally fades out into oblivion. The album is completely an instrumental work, offering no context except for some rather grotesque although very well done artwork and a rather long passage from the Gnostic text "The Apocalypse of Peter" which seems to offer a description of the punishments for "those that had forsaken the way of God".

For such an experimental album as Vermiculatus, it is executed extremely well with a healthy dose of eclecticism which keeps it fresh and interesting as it progresses along, with never a dull moment maintaining a good balance of aggressiveness and respite. Excellent work Scald, I can't wait to hear what you'll have for us next.

9 of 10


Friedhof Magazine

Mucho he escuchado este álbum, y aun sigo preguntandome donde encuadrarlo o como expresaros lo que en él os encontraréis. No me resulta nada fácil describir la propuesta que Scald propone con este su segundo cd, pero espero que cuando acabéis de leer esta reseña, al menos, podáis decidir si este álbum os interesa o no.
Vermiculatus no es ni de lejos un álbum convencional, más bien todo lo contrario, estamos ante una muestra de experimentación musical con pocos precedentes, una muestra donde vas a encontrar un solo tema en donde se concentran las numerosas ideas creativas de estos locos norirlandeses. Una sola canción donde no vas a encontrar ni un solo rifft repetido, sino un esfuerzo de calidad y originalidad compositiva digno de alabanza.
La primera parte de este álbum puede recordarte a ratos a bandas como Neurosis, Meshuggah, Cephalic Carnage, Ephel Duath, Dysrhythmia, Fantomas o a los nipones Boris, con estas referencias ya os podéis hacer una idea de la calidad que atesoran los instrumentistas que componen Scald.En esta primera parte se atreven también a phacer sus pinitos con la electrónica y el jazz, como suele ser común en este tipo de bandas que adoran la experimentación.
Sin duda el conjunto de sonidos que componen este álbum es ya sumamente valiente y arriesgado, pero por si esto fuera poco, tras haberte embaucado con los enrevesados y alucinantes sonidos que han salido ya de tu reproductor durante la primera mitad del tema, Scald vuelve a sorprenderte, cambiando el rumbo de la experimentación hacia el océano musical donde navegan Sunn O))), Khanate Merzbow o Godflesh con gran maestría. Nos adentramos entonces en ese pesadísimo mar de caos sentimental, una aprensión conseguida unas veces por sonidos electrónicos y en otras simplemente a cargo de distorsiones de guitarra. Es entonces que tras 50 minutos de pura experimentación sonora se producen dos respuestas. En la primera se encuentran los que ya apagaron el reproductor mucho antes de que acabará el cd, estos nunca volverán a escuchar Scald y nunca deberían haber adquirido este álbum y también se encuetran los valientes que pese a no gustarles, aguantaron la escucha hasta el final, estos tienen alguna opción de redescubrir el álbum tiempo después. La segunda respuesta a Scald ,en la que me incluyo, es darle de nuevo al play y prepararte para descubrir nuevos matices en esta extraña obra de arte.
Como guinda a la locura, Scald han incluido en este álbum Vermiculatus B1 una especie de cara B, que no es más que un video, donde las animaciones hacen tomar vida el carácter más maníaco del Scald más drone, fundiéndose imagen y sonido en un abrazo de dolor y caos.
Vermiculatus está solamente indicado para amantes de lo experimental y la locura sónica, es decir de la parte menos convencional de la escena musical extrema y por supuesto fuera de toda comercialidad, sino pertenecéis a esta panda de frikies ni os acerquéis a él.

7.75/10 Iván C.


Blood Dawn

Dieses nordirische Quartett hat sich laut eigenen Ausführungen dem "Progressive Post-Grind" verschrieben, was ungefähr nichts aussagt. Teils schräges, teils monotones Riffing mit atmosphärischen Semiakustik-Parts, verschachteltes Drumming und viele Wechsel in der Lautstärkedynamik bilden in der ersten Hälfte dieses 47minütigen (!) Stückes das Gerüst, und teilweise weiß einen dieses atypische Stilfreischwimmen auch zu beeindrucken.

Was den Genuss allerdings trübt, ist bei diesem ohne Gesang daherkommenden Werk die eher gewollte, künstliche Attitüde. Das Feeling geht oftmals flöten, denn zu konstruiert wirkt "Vermiculatus". In den letzten rund 20 Minuten wird das Geschehene noch mal in einem Ambient-/Noise-Gewand rekonstruiert, wobei ich schon weitaus aufregendere und zermürbendere Soundscapes zu hören bekommen habe - dies hier wirkt eher dröge und planlos. Man wartet 47 Minuten lang darauf, dass etwas Besonderes passiert und geht am Ende irgendwie leer aus. Schade. Schade deshalb, weil Potenzial da ist und man hieraus mehr hätte machen können.

Eine mit Soundscapes untermalte Animation, "Vermiculatus B1", bildet den ebenfalls eher spannungsfreien Multimediapart dieses Zweitwerks, welches in einer 999er-Auflage im limitierten "Deluxe Oversized Digisleeve" auf den Markt kommt.

Wertung: 2.5/5



Gli Scald sono una band nord-irlandese con all'attivo un solo disco, “Headworm”, uscito nel 2003. Così dopo tre anni ce li ritroviamo su Code 666 con una rinnovata passione per i vermi, il nuovo disco si chiama “Vermiculatus”, e con la voglia di fare qualcosa fuori dall'ordinario.
Tutto ciò si traduce in un disco composto di un'unica traccia strumentale, lunga ben 47 minuti, definita, molto fantasiosamente, progressive post-grind, laddove il grind è solo lo stridente rumore industriale creato dal sintetizzatore di Glyn Smyth. Quindi non aspettatevi Carcass o Napalm Death, e nemmeno le loro covate malefiche come Agoraphobic Nosebleed o Gore Beyond Necropsy, qui ci troviamo di fronte ad un disco che è più assimilabile a certe cose dei Tribes Of Neurot, progetto ambient/industral/apocalittico dei Neurosis.
Peccato che gli Scald non siano i Neurosis e alla fine questo “Vermiculatus” si trasforma in una lunga masturbazione sonora, piuttosto noiosa, mai realmente pericolosa, mai realmente sconvolgente, sebbene non manchino atmosfere apocalittiche e oscure.
Il disco ogni tanto sembra svegliarsi dal suo torpore doomy, con accelerazioni mai troppo violente, e vive di nuances disturbate, di ronzii sinistri, di note di piano inquietanti, ma ripeto nulla che sappia sconvolgermi. Ora non so se il problema sia mio e solo mio, resta il fatto che quando si passa alla parte visiva (eh si, c'è una parte visiva che accompagna “Vermiculatus”) è possibile vedere un video, “Vermiculatus B1”, che riesce ad essere alquanto disturbante, accompagnato com'è da musica di sottofondo realmente angosciosa.
È un peccato che gli Scald non riescano a colpire veramente nel segno, perché tutto il concept, e vi consiglio di visitare il loro sito web, è degno di menzione. La band fallisce nell'essenza del disco, non riuscendo a disturbare i nostri sensi, non riuscendo a dare uno scossone deleterio per la nostra psiche, che forse è già completamente andata…chi può dirlo? Se è così allora lode agli Scald, di cui non sappiamo riconoscere la grandezza, ma se un neurone mi è rimasto, come io credo, questo è ancora in grado di capire che gli Scald sono un mezzo bluff.

rate: 4/10