Album Review: Regal Worm – The Hideous Goblink

Band: Regal Worm | Album:The Hideous Goblink | Genre: Progressive rock | Year: 2021

From: Sheffield, UK | Label: Republic of Music

For fans of: Caravan, Diagonal, Egg, Wendy Carlos

Bandcamp

Regal Worm is a solo project by Jarrod Gosling, one half of the duos I Monster (trip-hop) and Cobalt Chapel (psychedelic rock). Regal Worm blends Gosling’s usual psychedelic leanings with more progressive and ambitious song structures. His last release under this moniker, 2018’s Pig Views, was my favorite album that year, so I naturally had high hopes for this release.

The album cover for The Hideous Goblink lives up to its name. It is an ugly piece of art and not nearly as enchanting as the art on his past releases. However, this is an instance where that old axiom about book covers and judging them holds true.  Regal Worm’s fourth full-length release is a fantastic collection of songs which sound like one unified whole. The six compositions here all work in harmony with each other to deliver something fantastic.

The first three songs on the album flow smoothly together into one 11-minute suite. “Action by HAVOC” starts with dramatic keyboards that quickly give way to a downward-tumbling bassline. There’s an immense amount of immediate kinetic energy, and all the retro synths lend a certain ‘60s sci-fi quality to it. There are ample jazz touches on this opening track as well, primarily in the vocal melody and guitar parts.

“The Inner Vacuum” follows so seamlessly, it’s easy to miss the transition. Funky, wah-wahed guitar and bongo drums maintain the retro atmosphere, and it’s helped along by eerie synth passages. Closing out this opening suite is “Bonzai Master”, which opens in a more restrained fashion but still revisits themes from the preceding songs. The rich array of keyboard tones in the song’s second half is the clear highlight of this cut.

The following piece is the nine-minute “Pollinators”. The intro features gentle guitar and plinking glockenspiel (I think; it’s some sort of idiophone), and it blends together to make a unique atmosphere. The bass is weirdly compressed and buzzy, but in a song with this title, that may be a deliberate evocation of bees. This buzzing is also reflected in synth tones as the song delves deeper into its runtime. There are a staggering number of clever themes, riffs, and passages in this song, even when considering its rather long duration.

“Underground Comix” is the shortest song here, barely cracking two minutes. It’s an urgent little track that does a great job of building tension ahead of the massive closing suite.

The Hideous Goblink ends with the massive, 19-minute “The Satan”. Weird, wobbly Mellotron flute suddenly gives way to an anxious, galloping bassline topped with twisting, distant guitar lines. This opening section of the song maintains a disorienting effect through the first verse as new keyboard tones, fuzzed-out guitar, and the usual array of synthesizers share the spotlight.

Moving past the opening verse of this opus, the overall mood oscillates between laid-back and on-edge, aided by some top-notch arranging. Every song on this album shares a similar sound palette, and this sense of sonic unity pays dividends over the course of such a sprawling suite.

In quieter moments, Indian scales sneak into the mix to add a dash of exotic spice, and the relentless, jittery energy of the rhythm section prevents this song from getting bogged down by its own nass. Themes constantly crop up briefly, only to be dropped and revisited later with some new element. The conclusion of “The Satan” is a fittingly bombastic, dramatic moment. Ultra-fuzzy bass dominates the track, and the multi-layered vocals sound like a grand Satanic choir.

This latest release from Regal Worm does not disappoint. I think I still somewhat prefer Pig Views, but this album is not lacking for good ideas. The instrumental elements are expertly played and constantly-shifting. And the tonal continuity from song to song helps make this release fantastically cohesive.

Score: 90/100

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