In 1993 Cleveland's Ringworm released their debut record ‘The Promise’ whose influence would really be felt once the 2000's came about. Bands like D.R.I, Cryptic Slaughter and S.O.D served in breaking down the boundaries between punk and metal and Ringworm brought that dedication into the 90's onward. After breaking up for a while the band’s 6th studio effort shows Ringworm is as strong as ever.
Ringworm is known for fast thrashy riffs, crunchy breakdowns and a general disregard for stereotypes but there's a certain precision that gives these songs a leg up on the competition. Most hardcore bands don't have solo passages that sound like they were written by K.K. Downing and this is especially true on "Psychic Vampire" and "I Recommend Amputation". Ringworm's hardcore side comes out on "Exit Life" the shortest song on the record; there are no breaks in the intensity especially in the blast beats that follow the intro.
Like other NYHC groups they do put emphasis on breakdowns and this album definitely delivers on that front. The track "One of Us is Going to Die" is the soundtrack to chaos making you want nothing more than a friendly, violent moshpit. "Leave Your Skin at the Door” is a bit doomier in its overall feel but it fits into the mix nicely
While Ringworm has remained consistent over the years, the sole original member, James "Human Furnace" Bulloch, sounds actually pissed off whereas most newer bands go out of their way to merely sound pissed off. You can hear him spit at the end of "We'll Always Have the End" which gives a bit of personality to the record.
Highs: ‘Hammer of the Witch’ is a solid album throughout and while it feels like a collection of songs lacking cohesion they are good songs nonetheless.
Lows: it does not have a proper bookend or closing track and just kind of stops.
Bottom line: Ringworm stays pretty true to form but it would have been better if the songs progressed in a cleaner fashion.
Scott "DimeTime" Nadeau