Chicago’s Oozing Wound are a mass of contradictions: weed lovers whose music hits you with its breakneck head-banging force. The band deal with nihilism, yet remain addictively fun. Their music is equal parts sludge and thrash, noise and riff-loaded rock. Their latest offering, High Anxiety is an unabashed mocking of the madness of modern living, its chemical-induced adventures and establishment absurdity, deriding the industrial complex behind established institutions such as NASA while savaging those who deny science. Oozing Wound on High Anxiety are nihilistic pied pipers making us laugh our way to the apocalypse. The album finds guitarist and vocalist Zack Weil drummer Kyle Reynolds and bassist Kevin Cribbin blending their ferocious energy, sonic experiments and blunt lyricism for a pummeling enjoyable head-banger with an irresistible sneer.
Oozing Wound emerged from the underground noise warehouse scene. They were not only active in bands on the scene, but Kyle‘s own Rotted Tooth Recordings was home to many of its most successful artists (a pre-curser to Chicago labels like Hausu Mountain). Kevin lives in and runs an essential and legendary space, “Situations,” home of the city’s most adventurous shows and a mainstay for many touring bands to play in Chicago. It was through this and their screen-printing activities that they connected with noise pioneers like Lightning Bolt. Oozing Wound came to be on Thrill Jockey after sharing a bill with Brian Chippendale’s Black Pus.
Three records later, High Anxiety finds Oozing Wound’s songs have become more complex, their attacks more ferocious, and bass and guitar lines more captivating. The album was recorded in four days at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio. The trio ripped through live-tracking and overdubs, leaving space to experiment with new sounds and effects. The band, having an affinity for the complexities of prog music, managed to bring prog elements to High Anxiety without sacrificing any of their songs' punch. Subtle layers of saxophone, flutes and synths were blended into guitar tones, adding depth and texture without cluttering arrangements. Fist-pumping blasts of white-hot riffing become a Trojan horse for sonic weirdness. The resulting recordings are at once some of their most sonically rich, immediate, and impactful.
Opener “Surrounded by Fucking Idiots” sets the sonic and lyrical pace. Breakneck guitars gallop forward as Weil lays out an equally venomous stab at the clientele at the famed Empty Bottle club where he works. “Tween Shitbag” seethes with rage at music industry players that trade on and commodify subculture. “Birth of a Flat Earther” cycles through an elliptical churning groove, the perceived infinite loop itself a metaphorical dig on the belief system of the Flat Earth Society and its founder Samuel Shenton. Certain subsections of society may get a special scathing examination under the microscope here, but don’t let the specifics fool you: Oozing Wound’s disdain for humanity is by no means limited to those namechecked across the album’s seven tracks. High Anxiety drips with a caustic vitriol that is both riotous and intoxicating, a feat that could only be accomplished by Oozing Wound.