Worwyk – Dark Embrace (Schnozz Records)

Wednesday, 13th July 2022
Rating: 8 / 10

The main project of guitarist Tom Vitacco for 30 + years, Worwyk originated in the late 80’s as a full band but became more of a home recording outfit from 1990 onward – as Dark Embrace is the twelfth studio album for this heavy metal outfit. Handling all of the instrumentation, these ten songs contain three different singers (Jason Russo handling the bulk of the workload, with Johnny Lokke and Tom himself each taking on one song) and stylistically traverse a great mix of old school power, thrash, and classic metal influences across the US/European spectrum.

The framework of Tom’s songwriting, playing, and hooks within Worwyk comes through an early to mid-80’s prism – when acts like Omen, Helstar, Metal Church met headlong into Megadeth, Jacob’s Dream, and a bit of the Iron Maiden/Judas Priest finesse aspects. He can be quite adventurous through specific runs, building up harmonies to allow Jason’s multi-octave vocal delivery to soar along with his subtle gritty bite for secondary measures as heard on “Pain and Torment”. Intertwining the faster cuts with more straightforward, crunchy or anthem-oriented affairs ensures a listener experience that will not cause ear fatigue – which can be a bit more thrashy on “Twisted Mind” or venture into classic, progressive lands when Tom takes over to discuss the love of circle pit ethics during “Pit Master”. Additional piano/keyboard supplementation gives off a Savatage-vibe for the driving title track or emotive “Save Your Soul”, the latter containing a cultural main musical hook plus a thoughtful lead break that carries the back half of the arrangement. Are there times where you wish there would be a human drummer to flesh out specific sections of songs to give this even more of a natural touch? Certainly… but the programming does not diminish the professional nature to this record, as Tom’s abilities and comfort for his niche cannot be denied.

It’s great to still hear a band like Worwyk executing this style in 2022 – as there is an audience for Dark Embrace, although it may be cult-like in the US compared to say mainland Europe, Canada, South America and the Far East. When it’s a labor of love, quality will shine bright like a diamond as it does here.

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