Wet Specimens gets rowdy on ‘Over Pale Bodies’

We are, of course, firm believers that not only is there no shortage of talent here in the 518, but there’s also something for everyone. The underground punk-hardcore scene may be one of the lesser talked about ones – perhaps by design? – but that’s certainly not because it’s not alive and well. So… without further ado, allow me to present Wet Specimens.

The Albany-based quartet recently released their new LP, Over Pale Bodies. While it’s never a good idea to judge a record by its cover, the black-and-white adorned, cult-like imagery gives listeners a great idea of what to expect as they hit play. What follows are 13 raucous tracks clocking in at less than 30 minutes. Seriously, you could probably get through this thing in your morning commute (if you feel like showing up ready to throw down with your co-workers, that is).

‘Above the Catacombs’ serves as the album’s introduction, featuring a noisy instrumental curtain laced over some nearly-inaudible chanting. Transitioning almost immediately into ‘Here Lies the Abyss’ and ‘Bed of Nails’, vocalist Colin Betor lays his vocal chords bare, shredding through lines like ‘Contagion comes from within…’ like they’re his last will and testament.

The record is rife with references to graves, flames, daggers and other death-adjacent imagery. So sure, it’s not very uplifting, but on the bright side, the band makes it sound like a hell of a lot of fun. The guitars are fuzzy, the drums are bombastic, the vocals are screamed through a wall of reverb like they’re being performed at the world’s angriest poetry slam. 

Lyrically, most songs feature sentence fragments that provide the imagery necessary to support the cover that graces them. While this serves the band and the songs well, it’s the completed thoughts that really stand out. ‘It’s a bad omen when people are well, and it’s not a business without treatment to sell…’ wraps up ‘Cursed Ethic’. And while I try not to speculate on a writer’s meaning, it’s hard not to think of modern societal issues like the opioid crisis when hearing a lyric like that. Honestly, it’s stunning.

Late album cut ‘Phobias’ swallows you like a swarm of bees, the dissonant guitars enveloping Betor’s moans as if he himself is being eaten alive by the hive. Album closer ‘Beneath the Catacombs’ brings the closest thing to an aural respite on Over Pale Bodies, the tempo slightly slower than the 12 tracks that precede it by comparison. Despite that – or maybe because of it – it’s one of the LP’s highlights, an easy to latch onto finale.

With only one song surpassing the 3:00 mark (the penultimate ‘Cadaver Synod’), the record’s immediacy never lets up. It’s surely to be enjoyed even more in a live setting with a bunch of sweaty concertgoers letting loose, so hardcore fans: keep an eye on their performance schedule. And as always, the best way to support a band’s music is by picking up a copy on Bandcamp.

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