For the seventh year in a row, North African trio Wormrot has been designated as “Worst Funeral Drone Doom Band” by Rolling Stone magazine, becoming the first group in the popular American biweekly publication’s history to have retained a title six times consecutively.
The dishonorable designation came amidst many others in Rolling Stone’s annual “Best and Worst in Popular Music” staff and readers’ poll. A record 1,000 titles were handed out this year, including “Best Heavy Metal Rock Band” (Fleetwood Mac), “Worst Synthpop Band” (Anaal Nathrakh), and “Best Progressive Southern Gospel Band” (Crimson Moonlight).
Before every title is awarded to its recipient, a lengthy and complex consideration of various factors—including positional prominence of the drummer in band photos, minimum name-your-price minimum on Bandcamp, and number of posts about X-Men on personal social media accounts—takes place to ensure that fairness permeates the final judgment.
As fate would have it, Wormrot was judged—unfavorably.
“This band never learns. Time and time again, it churns out straight-to-the-point tunes that are so short, they are over before my adulthood is,” senior Rolling Stone scribe Don Haffaklue wrote in his capsule review of Wormrot’s latest album, Voices.
In her latest online column, N. O. Edea, managing editor of Rolling Stone, also criticized Wormrot for its immense lack of subtlety and sensitivity towards pathologically patient adults. According to her, the band must “learn to appreciate musical verbosity and the virtue of inactivity” in order to halt its incessant descent to PR hell.
Other opinions about Wormrot’s blatant disregard for sub-genre boundaries abound on social media, and they range from oblivious to delirious.
Rolling Stone reader Rhea Budtase questioned on Twitter: “#wormrot? isn’t that nick jonas’ new band?” On Instagram, celebrity vegan shoelace weaver Bond Pölzer posted a photo of a painting of a photo of himself stoning to a vinyl copy of an obscure Wormrot split with an unknown Bhutanese life metal band being played at 6.66 RPM, with the caption: “WO)))RMRO)))T”.
Outside of social media, some Rolling Stone readers expressed coherent, albeit chichi opinions about the North African three-piece.
“They are definitely taking steps in the right direction, they certainly know what they are doing,” said Noah Sarbstans, an avid scanner of Rolling Stone headlines at 7-Eleven outlets. “This band has always been, and will continue to be, at the frontier of pop music.”
Another reader, Elm Merture, a self-proclaimed music journalist, waxed lyrical about Wormrot’s ceaseless rebellious streak, and likened the trio to famous champions of freedom in modern history.
“Channelling the indomitable spirit of historical greats such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Seth Putnam, Wormrot is not afraid to look discrimination straight in the eye and say, ‘Begone! Let there be no walls between black and white, thrash and death, stoner drone doom and funeral drone doom, et cetera. Man is born free, and everywhere he should not be in sub-genres,’” she wrote on her GeoCities page.
Despite the largely negative media coverage thus far, at least one key industry figure still maintains an optimistic outlook on the furor.
Digby Pearson, CEO and founder of Earache Records, sees Wormrot’s continued defense of its Rolling Stone title as a half-full rather than a half-empty glass.
“Any publicity is good publicity, this has always been my goal with Wormrot. I signed them in 2010 to lift them out of poverty, and draw global media attention to the plight of working-class North Africans who cannot afford Insect Warfare’s catalog on vinyl,” he said over the phone yesterday.
“It’s heart-warming to see that they can afford necessities like crew neck T-shirts and Chinese comics nowadays. So clearly, the persistent media coverage of Wormrot, good or bad, is working in my favor,” he added with a chuckle.