Wormwood's new single The Archive is the terrifying sound of society falling apart

A portrait of Wormwood
(Image credit: Sound Pollution)

One of the few positives to emerge from the chaos of the COVID19 pandemic of the past year has been witnessing how musicians have been inspired by the situation.

Taken from their forthcoming third album, Arkivet, the follow up to 2019’s critically adored Nattarvet, Swedish post-black metal band Wormwood conjurer a terrifyingly real look at what a society in the process of totally falling apart might look like in the video for the first single The Archive. 

Set in October 2023, the video starkly depicts the after effects of a global pandemic through the eyes of a single family, and their attempts to survive. 

The band’s vocalist Nine says of the track: "We knew from the start that we wanted a strong song to encapsulate the feeling and bleakness of the album and The Archive was a perfect pick.

"The video is set just before the irreversible cataclysm when people are struggling to make sense and survive in a world on the brink of total change and upheaval.

"As with many Wormwood songs this one is a sonic journey of different styles and emotions.”

Indeed, the music of Wormwood brilliantly captures the existential dread of the video's visuals; melding passages of slow, vast and ethereal beauty alongside some savagely white-hot black metal. The track also features a sense of hopefulness, an anthemic quality that lifts the music beyond mere extreme metal bluster. 

Many artists over the years have attempted to use their music to tell a story and capture a coherent narrative, but with this song and video Wormwood have truly hit the bullseye. The cinematic visuals from Svartna Film are brilliantly realised, and watching the family traverse from their home to the empty, tranquil woodland of Sweden, via the broken, dilapidated city landscape, recalls everything from Mathieu Kassovitz’s cult 1995 drama La Haine to the 2009 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road. On the way we encounter public disturbances, suicide and a feeling of bleak hopelessness that is expertly sound tracked by the band.

This exhaustive approach to making sure the entire package of the band is of artistic worth is also evident in the release of the new album. The first vinyl pressing comes complete with a novel written by Swedish author Mikael Stromberg, which tells the story of the song and the video, from where The Archive starts and beyond. 

In a world where so many bands are content to put their music out on streaming sites alone, and the idea of giving their fanbase a full package to obsess over, seems to be becoming more and more common, Wormwood are doing the exact opposite. Pouring over every detail of their music, making their records immersive and engaging experiences for their fanbase, and leaving a deep, rich universe for those who follow them to completely lose themselves in. This is not art for a casual fan, this is a band with true depth and a unique artistic vision. Something that The Archive’s video is clear proof of.

Arkivet arrives on the 16th of July 2021, but, until then, The Archive should whet your appetite for what will undoubtedly be one of the finest metal releases of the year.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.