Vinyl Wednesday: Ringworm – Birth Is Pain

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For the first Vinyl Wednesday post at this new blogging home I have decided to change up the format a little bit. This is going to be one of those posts where I talk more about the album and less about the design. I’m not totally abandoning the nerdy design and illustration talk, but overall this album means more to me than just that artsy-fartsy stuff and I want to give the story behind my love for it the proper attention it deserves.

I was first introduced to Ringworm by my buddy Dave while in college. He is into all the hardcore and punk stuff (along with a lot of other, softer stuff that I don’t like at all) and one day he suggested that I give Ringworm a listen. I had probably asked him for some suggestions and to be honest this is probably the first one that really stuck with me. Whatever the case, I believe the first songs I heard of Ringworm’s were from the 2007 album The Venomous Grand Design. It instantly clicked for me. It was fast, it was heavy and it just oozed anger. This shit was good. The only thing is, Dave didn’t really like this album. It was a bit too metal for him. Too many guitar solos and too much flash. He shunned it while I ate it up.

I think I sat on that album for quite a long time before really getting to know this band more. I didn’t need to go into more depth with them yet. I probably wasn’t even ready for it. There finally came a day when Nancy and I were visiting him at his studio in Kent and he put on some older Ringworm for us. It just so happened to be the song “Dollar Whore” from the Birth is Pain album.

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This song just kicks righteous ass right from the start and Dave treats us to a little show. As soon as the music kicks in he starts miming the words and stomping around the room in a circle with his arms sort of slamming down and flailing around at the same time. All the while he has this weird angry frown on his face. It was absolutely hilarious. The song is a whopping 1:26 in length but Naners and I have had hours of fond memories of these moments.

After that I would firmly cement myself as a Ringworm fan. As soon as we got back home from that trip to Kent I immediately started looking into Ringworm as much as possible. When I take a liking to a new band I want to learn all I can about them and their music. It’s like some sort of disease.

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Now, fast forward about 3-4 years and Nancy and I have quite the record collection going but this specific record had alluded me for about a year. I don’t really like to buy records online unless they are new releases or there is some special pressing or something. To me, going to the store and searching for a record is much more rewarding but it just wasn’t happening. No Chicago-area stores had this record. Bastards.

I eventually broke down and checked Victory Records website and saw that they still had some of the album so I scooped it up, but I did so without telling Nancy. I wanted to surprise her with it, and with the song “Dollar Whore” specifically. Oddly enough, she loves the song as much as I do. I’m sure that’s more to do with Dave and his weirdness and less with Ringworm’s insanity. After some of the most awful shipping I have ever had to deal with the record finally came and not a moment too soon.

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I got home first and get the record ready for when Naners came home. I had it all set up on the turntable and I hid the jacket so she wouldn’t know what she was in for. What I didn’t know is that she had an awful day and was in the mood for something angry and terrifying. She gets home and is in the process of unwinding and this song kicks in. By now, after years of abusing her ears with this song she immediately knows the intro when it comes on. She comes out of the room she was in and was just too excited to be hearing this song. It was fantastic. I’m sure we pranced around like Dave did that day years ago and just had a good laugh about it all. It was exactly what she needed after a terrible day and long bus ride. Ringworm puts smiles on our faces once again.

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While this record isn’t my favorite of the Ringworm catalog musically, it might be my favorite artistically. The artwork is all done by the vocalist (who goes by the name of “Human Furnace”) and it is just fantastic. It’s just supremely crude and vulgar, yet very refined. It wonderfully mimics the music in every way. The cover is a painting that features a skulls the main element and all sorts of little bits and goodies surrounding it. I love just sitting and staring at the skull and the hand. The front of the jacket always reminds me of a Slayer record sleeve or something. Maybe that’s why I like it so much.

A lyric insert was also included, which is great in case you have a hard time deciphering the lyrics that come from Human Furnace’s mouth (which is most likely what will happen). On one side is an illustration of what I can only assume is a Jesus-type figure with some arrows protruding from his head. I always thought it looked like the chaos symbol, but it also can double as a crown of thorns. This was also created by Human Furnace is it’s technically a really nice illustration. It’s also used on a t-shirt that was included in the bundle that I bought. Good graphics deserve to live in as many areas as possible and I am always pleased to throw on my Ringworm gear to show support for the cause.

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The opposite side of the insert features the lyrics and a small band photo. Simple and effective. There is also a large logo in the middle of the sheet that I never even noticed until I took these photos. A good little design decision that I am glad was implemented. I love being able to notice something new after a long time of owning and looking at something a lot. Those little treats are the reason I buy vinyl records. If I bought this on CD I probably would have opened it, looked through the booklet (if it came with one) and then never looked at it again.

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The record that I purchased was one of the red pressings. I think this is my 2nd red pressing of theirs. They seem to do that color a lot. Oh well. I’m always a sucked for the colored vinyls. The A-Side label has the typical band logo and album name while the B-Side label features another illustration by HF.

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Overall I just love putting this record on and sitting down and staring at all the little details of this package. The front cover can keep me mesmerized for quite a while and then flipping it over is just as much of a treat. There are all sorts of little design treats on this thing. The bloody handprint across the photo, the textures in the artwork, the lyrics… it’s all good stuff. And since the album is only 26 minutes long I really don’t have too much time to get bored with it and move on to something else.

If you are into heavy music and don’t know about Ringworm then do yourself a favor and listen to the song “Dollar Whore” below. You won’t regret it.

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3 thoughts on “Vinyl Wednesday: Ringworm – Birth Is Pain

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