On the rarest of occasions, there comes along a band that latches on and annihilates your ears with such a unique combination of sounds, you find yourself dislodged from the monotony of every-day music, and rooted firmly in the terrain of admiration. Cleveland Ohio’s RINGWORM are no strangers to this concept, and have been fascinating metalheads with their unorthodox melodies for over 30 years. Now recently signed to Nuclear Blast Records, the guys are preparing to unleash their 9th studio album: SEEING THROUGH FIRE.
“We wanted to go with a slightly different approach and look than the previous records, it’s a new era for us,” explains vocalist and founder James Bulloch, also known as the Human Furnace. “It’s a little bit of a return to our roots, you have those moments every so often where you wanna get back to your comfort zone, but at the same time you want to expand that comfort zone. On the production side, we definitely wanted something that was raw, more in your face, and way more sonically abrasive than the last several albums. Vocally it’s the same approach on every record, my voice is just a hammer, and every song looks like a nail to me.” While the Human Furnace’s monstrous voice obtained its name for a reason, the band are often lumped in with a vast sea of hardcore acts, perhaps unfairly pushing aside the intricate melodies that completely recategorize RINGWORM, and set them apart from one specific genre. SEEING THROUGH FIRE showcases these abundant complexities and pushes the band up into the front runners of modern metallic talent.
Tracks like “Thought Crimes” are a combination of magnetic speed and violent catchy-ness. “We’ve always liked to incorporate grind elements into our songs. We’re a true hybrid band. This song is a huge punch to the face,” describes Furnace. “My lyrics are introspective and personal. Occasionally I'll dip my fingers in social issues as it pertains to the population, but in the end, they all have my personal take; how things affect me, directly. I’m not one for preaching. That’s not what this band has ever been about.”
Another song “No Solace, No Quarter, No Mercy” is straightforward both musically and lyrically. “We’ve always been treading in that water of being too hardcore for metal, and too metal for hardcore… we’re a bit of a musical black sheep. This song is definitely a mix of head banging metal, with some hardcore tempos and beats. The lyrics are another diatribe about being beaten down by life, and that life’s not going to take it easy on you because you're having a rough time. They always say: ‘if you’re going through hell, keep going.’ If you’re expecting mercy from life, or from this track, you’re going to be disappointed.”
With Daniel Mongrain of Voivod performing a guitar solo on “Death Hoax”, we hear a speedier, thrasher version of RINGWORM’s capabilities. “Unavoidable Truth” is lyrically pinpointed; directed at people who live in somewhat of a bubble, afraid of social interaction or confrontation. “You’re going to meet people that you don’t like or agree with,” says Furnace. “Some people go way out of their way to make sure they don’t have to feel uncomfortable… but that’s just not reality.”
Human Furnace has created much of the band’s artwork for album covers, merch, and promotions of the past, and was once again responsible for the album artwork of SEEING THROUGH FIRE. We see a demon’s face colored with the flames of hell, opening its chasm of a mouth as lost souls moan in the surrounding rocks of the underworld. “With this new one, I wanted to break the old mold and do something fresher, something brighter,” explains Furnace. “It’s a little different, it has that old school death metal feel, but it’s still my style.”
A different level of sound quality was accomplished with SEEING THROUGH FIRE as technology allowed RINGWORM to banish any previous restrictions laid upon them during the production and recording processes. While in the past they had already recorded with Noah Buchanan of Mercinary Studios in Cleveland, this was the first time everything, including vocals, was all recorded in that same space. “I’m very glad we did it this way. Noah has such a good ear for things, he was able to quickly assist with suggestions and insight and just got a better performance out of me and the band in general. He had a vision for us. There are differences with the overall heaviness and rawness of this new one. It’s something we’ve never really been able to achieve in the past,” explains Furnace.
With SEEING THROUGH FIRE recorded and artwork prepped, the album was packaged and ready to go when Nuclear Blast Records became aware of RINGWORM’s motivation to unleash it in 2023. “We’re fortunate to be able to work with Nuclear Blast, especially at this stage. It opens up a lot of doors for us, and a lot more people can hear what we do. We’re looking forward to working with them; it’s nice having their team, their machine, built around us.”
Look out for RINGWORM’s newest offering: SEEING THROUGH FIRE, due to be released Summer 2023 via Nuclear Blast Records. RINGWORM is James ‘Human Furnace’ Bulloch (vocals), Matt Sorg (guitar), Mike Lare (guitar), Ed Stephens (bass).