Oozing Wound are a paradox.
Consider the A.V. Club’s Undercover Series. Another cool nook of the internet devoured by click-pushed publishing, the now defunct project forced bands to cover a song from a list of arbitrary tracks. It was an absolute sink or swim contest, with some bands arriving bleary-eyed, unsure of what was happening (looking at you Mac DeMarco). Bu when it worked, it produced an off-kilter magic. There were songs that rang “oh yeah that makes sense” (Father John Misty covering “Do You Realize???”) or completely absurd (Screaming Female’s monstrous take on “Shake it Off”). But the most interesting submissions came from bands who actively seemed to hate the songs they covered, such as Reggie Watts’ uh “take” on Van Halen’s “Panama” and the deeply uncomfortable version of “Sharp Dressed Man” Xiu Xiu squirmed out. They were polarizing but engrossing, and putting the gross in engrossing was Chicago muck-merchants Oozing Wound’s version of Blink-182s anti-maturity anthem “Damnit.” They did it out of spite to absolutely annihilate the song, but in spite or because of the hate it was a brilliant beatdown.
That’s Oozing Wound in a nutshell. Deeply hostile, vastly antagonistic, the Chicago boys take an unnerving joy in destroying everything around them. High Anxiety is the feeling of getting repeatedly kicked in the teeth and loving it. Lead yowler Zack Weil has a fixed sneer plastered on his face and his vocals seem to have been fed through a woodchipper. The inverse of fellow sludgy boys Dope Body, Oozing Wound have less time for the Neanderthal logic of low end beat downs and prefer to keep the circle pit in a constant throb of strewn body parts and hatred. Heavy music can be cathartic from lighters in the air moments, but this scuzzy sound is the petty, vicious thrill of keying your boss’ car or using the mosh as your only form of human contact.
Outside of a strange obsession with astronauts, most of High Anxiety’s lyrical content is aimed directly at music industry scum suckers. “Tween Shitbag,” based off Weil’s experiences working at a music venue, is dedicated to Julian Casablancas of all people, and the former Strokes front man probably won’t be flattered. “Oh man I really love your band/ Or at least I did,” Weil howls. Remember kids, always tip your bartenders, be nice to the waiters and do not, for the love of god, piss off the folks running the gig, they might just write a brutal screed calling you the death of rock ’n’ roll. And opener “Surrounded by Fucking Idiots” is self-explanatory.
Elsewhere, with the thundering power of drummer Kyle Reynolds and bassist Kevin Cribbin, Oozing Wound pours more of the caustic energy in the sonics. “Riding the Universe” gallops in with a mosquito-pitched whining solo that’s likely to burst eardrums. “Vein Ripper,” in addition to having a shudder inducing title, is where thrash might have gone if Metallica hadn’t made the whole thing pretty. Oozing Wound are a paradox; they make nihilistic, horrific music that sounds like paranoia made flesh, but High Anxiety is ridiculously fun to listen to.