Since debuting in 2019, London duo Wargasm – made up of Sam Matlock and Milkie Way – have carved out a space for themselves among the ranks of nu-metal, alternative rock, and rave-ready electronic beats, their tracks made accessible by some more pop-leaning tendencies. Last year’s EP ‘EXPLICIT: THE MIXXXTAPE’ was an anarchic consolidation of their sound, and paved the way for their debut full-length ‘Venom’.
Scratching into life on ‘Introduction’, the record kicks down the door on its titular track. Dialling up the angst from the off, Sam’s snarling vocals tangle with thunderous guitars and Milkie’s softer but no less powerful contributions. From there, the album carries the same intensity throughout the thrashing ‘Minigun’, swaggering ‘Death Rattle’, and marching ‘Ride The Thunder’. On ‘Death Rattle’, Milkie warns that “it’s the end of days / if we’re going down / we’re going down the right way”, before the song descends into caustic screaming courtesy of Sam. The song’s electronic touches are all the more apparent on ‘Ride The Thunder’, a track pulsing with the beat of a sweaty club floor before the rolling tide of a rave beat drop sends things spiralling.
Around the middle of the album, sandwiched between explosive singles ‘Bang Ya Head’ and ‘Modern Love’, the album does seem to have some of the wind taken out of its sails. ‘Feral’, which opens with a voice note musing the connection between Will Ferrel, Colin Farrell and Pharrell Williams, isn’t actually that feral in its sound, or certainly not by the standards across the rest of the record. ‘Sonic Dog Tag’ follows with a similarly conservative tone. They’re hardly emaciated lullabies, but the punches don’t land as hard as they could.
The energy is restored by the time ‘S.A.D.’ roars around, though: a clattering of drums and vehement declarations, from both band members, that they “hate / everything / about everything”. The momentum stays for ‘Outrage’, a duet that sees Milkie talking Sam down from going on a (fictional!) coke-fuelled revenge spree. The skipping beat, punctuated by the occasional sound of a gun being loaded, eventually escalates into a tail-spinning outro.
Despite the odd lapse in power, ‘Venom’ is a super-charged and dramatic record characteristic of Wargasm’s spirit. Closing track ‘Sombre Goodbye’ starts out in a dank, glitching soundscape – until Milkie cuts across Sam’s barely audible mutterings to declare that Wargasm isn’t done yet. Cue 30 seconds of screaming and shredding guitars – a return to the title track’s lyric “we got that blood like venom” – and Wargasm go out in a fireball.
Words: Caitlin Chatterton