You know the old saying “like a fine wine, you get better with age”? I wonder if that applies to some backwoods moonshine firewater because that would make it more appropriate for Cleveland’s best, Ringworm. Now free from the wretched clutches of Tony Brummel and the treacherous Victory Records, the band has found a home on Relapse Records and seems to be in a position to do whatever the fuck they want to do. Whatever they want to do seems to be finally reach their fullest potential as a band and give forth the best record they’ve ever done in Hammer Of The Witch.

Now I know what you are thinking. But what about The Promise or Birth Is Pain? Kid’s shoes compared to what Hammer Of The Witch has to offer. Ringworm has always been a band that blurred the lines between metal and hardcore better than most. Their brand of raw thrash metal mixed with groove centered hardcore always made them a force in the heavier hardcore world. With each record the line got blurred even more. In my personal opinion the band met their peak with Justice Replaced By Revenge. It was their most metal driven record at the time and showed the direction the band should be going. Essentially they needed to leave hardcore behind, in a musical aspect. Venomous Grand Design and even Scars kept the formula going but I feel that the trappings of their contract with Victory hindered them from putting out something they really got behind. With Hammer, the band seems to have total creative freedom and that “we’ll do this on our own terms” mentality that it reflects the material put out. This is the album that it all came together.

If you are familiar with the last few records put out, you aren’t getting any weird curveballs with the overall idea of what Ringworm is bringing to the table. Once again it’s a straight forward thrash metal record sprinkled with the occasional groove section that will resonate with the hardcore crowd. You can windmill your hair while spin kicking your best friend in the face. I think a major factor in the overall power of this record comes in the form of the production. Ringworm has never sounded this good. The guitars have a vicious tone and the drums and bass pack a pre-tattooed face Mike Tyson uppercut of a punch. Human Furnace is also on point with this record. For such a little man, he sure bellows out a big voice. His throaty, demon like vocals are some of my favorite in the business and this devil didn’t disappoint me at all with this outing.

Sometimes something just clicks with a band and they crank out something memorable. That is the case with the newest Ringworm record. I know it’s only March and there are many, many albums to come out this year but the bar was set extremely high with Hammer Of The Witch. Between Behemoth and this, I already have my frontrunners for best record of the year. Pre-Orders are up now. Don’t wait. And try not to set the world on fire during the chorus of Exit Life.