As the opening track of Pearl Mystic gradually splutters into life and begins to take shape and form, it quickly becomes apparent that Hookworms’ debut album is going to be something a bit different. After steadily building up a reputation as a live band, mixed in with a sporadic release here and there, the Leeds quintet seem to have finally pulled all the pieces together for their first full length record.
‘Away Towards’ emerges through a hazy miasma of jittery noise, as if slowly awaking from the fog of sleep, before the heavily distorted vocals kick in heralding a riotous cacophony of noise. Throughout Pearl Mystic the cloudy abyss is penetrated by an aggressive and intense vocal delivery. Whenever it threatens to descend into sludgy drone, the hardcore past of the lead singer ensures that there is an urgency and kinetic pull which imbues each song with a clarity and freshness.
To label Hookworms as simply a psych band would be ignoring the depth and intricacies of each song. They have produced an album which never loses focus or direction. The shroud of reverb and distortion is regularly punctuated by screeching guitar, the trance-like beat of the drums or the portentous rumble of the bass. Pearl Mystic has been carefully built, piece by piece, on sound foundations; painstakingly layered and developed. The bands’ only interest seems to be in making quality music; eschewing cheap gimmicks or overproduction in favour of a DIY ethos that many bands would do well to take note of.
When they really go for it, such as on ‘Form and Function’, there is a directness and power driving every heartbeat; feeling like a call to arms. ‘In Our Time’ puts the echo unit to good use creating vocals that resonate like a desperate plea, whilst ‘Since We Had Changed’ has the indistinct chants of the band performing their own Black Mass.
In Pearl Mystic, Hookworms have creating a living, breathing collection of potent songs; drenched in emotional intensity with an undercurrent of depression. A pall runs through each track, often pierced by infectious instrumentation, but never entirely dispersed. You may at times feel yourself drifting along with Pearl Mystic as the musical seeps softly into your psyche, but you will find yourself being repeatedly roused from this thrall by the vitality, urgency and intensity of the musical arrangements and the sheer quality of song writing.
Pearl Mystic is an impressive statement of intent from easily one of the best bands Yorkshire has to offer.