Ever since their emergence in early 2016 HMLTD, avid advocates of the Gesamtkunstwerk, have always striven to give audiences more. On their wildly ambitious second album, they are realising these aims on a truly epic scale.
Created over the course of two years with a cast of 47 musicians – including a gospel choir and a 16-piece string orchestra – The Worm is less a concept album than a fully-fledged musical universe, transcending genre and medium. Set in a disorienting anachronistic version of Medieval England – as steeped in dystopian sci-fi fantasy as it is folklore and Old English mythology – it’s part political polemic, part deeply moving psychological journey.
Though always admired for their defiantly genre-agnostic approach, The Worm sees HMLTD pushing sonic experimentation to a whole new level, from dissonant free jazz riffing to vintage soul and English folk fusions to rock opera. Major musical touchpoints included Stravinsky’s ‘Rite Of Spring’, Pink Floyd and Nina Simone’s rendition of ‘Sinnerman’ and references for the world of The Worm included 14th century texts The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron, Aleksey German’s 2013 sci-fi film Hard To Be A God, Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev and the hopeful narrative arc of 90s mecha anime series ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’.