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Witchblood – Witchblood EP

by Brett Stevens
July 30, 2013 –

witchblood-witchblood_epFor the past eighteen years, it has been clear that for black metal and death metal to survive, they must do more than imitate the past. In other words, it’s time to get weird. There are many avenues to explore but few trust the audience to understand and so the majority spend their time making fifth-generation copies of bands whose ideas have long been forgotten and who exist now only as aesthetic “brands.”

Witchblood shows us a band attempting to create something new within the weird side of black metal. Hybridized with heavy and power metal, Witchblood fits into that territory inhabited by bands as diverse as Gehenna and Absurd which lets the weird side of metal through. It embraces that which polite society normally finds difficult, which is uninhibited emotion and fascination with the natural, which means this music is less manipulative and more sentimental than the norm. This gives it both a cryptic energy and an endearing personality.

Much like Absurd, parts of this are “immature,” meaning that in their guileless state they lack the focus on surface appearance that we have come to expect, and in their raw exuberance they resemble the musings more of a child than an adult. However, there is nothing uncoordinated about the result. Unlike most bands, Witchblood like to edit their material down to the point where every part serves a role, which means it is slightly more repetitive but the parts work together to produce a gestalt of emotion.

This EP will not be for everyone, in particular the more recent types who like slick alternative rock style “mixed emotions” aesthetic draped over their music, but Witchblood will appeal to those who like a good heavy metal tune with black metal style and power metal energy. Some will find the background vocals, which are either clean or war-whooped in the best primitive style or clean vocals that shadow the rasp and give it fullness, to be disturbing but this reviewer found that after a few listens they integrated well with the sound.

Instrumentally this band acquits itself well despite using relatively simple elements and riffing off known styles from Burzum and Dissection as well as some of the vivid gestures and grandiose ballad-like tendencies of epic heavy metal bands. In particular, drumming echoes the riffing but does so unobtrusively while still providing the emphasis where it is needed. Guitars are often reminiscent of primitive bands like Ungod and Absurd, but just as much at home with Dio-era grandeur.

Witchblood are relative newcomers into a genre overflowing with imitators of the past. This band is trying to keep that spirit, but convey it in a new form, in part by escaping the slickness that becomes easy once a style is well known. In short, it’s a return to the “Wild West” days of black metal before the professionals took over and turned it into the same old thing everyone else is doing. For that reason, this band is worth a first listen, and maybe at that point, the vulnerable and feral sides will make a convincing argument for Witchblood.

Order Witchblood through the Witchblood e-store.

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5 comments

  • EricSyre

    Maybe the lead guitarist could learn a few scales or just to stay in tune with the riffs. The vocals has a definitive quality to them and the double-bass pace is interesting.

    Reply
  • bitterman

    Putting the weird back in metal. Character, a new voice. This is why an album like Darkthrone’s Goatlord can take its compositional techniques from Mental Funeral yet cannot be mistaken for an Autopsy album. Before an unusual, original album surfaces again, the metalcore fads (djent, fake progressive – The Faceless), gimmick acts (Deafheaven), and NWN aesthetic brands (Darkthrone copy #34719) need to die off. Then, another band of socially awkward misanthropes will create something like Cadaver’s In Pains without it being buried by trends, etc. I predict it will take around another decade, decade and a half before the novelty of people making internet metal bands wears off. Myspace was bad, but Facebook is limiting and bandcamp appears to be it’s cutoff point. In time, Cogumelo drunkards will rise again, and with it, the birth of a new age. Of course, this is all wishful thinking. The world is full of shit, and we’ll end up with another crappy Pestilence 2000s album by Patrick “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’” Mameli.

    Reply
  • Ted_Bunny

    Make the guitar sound lower/heavier a bit, you have Obituary.
    But I enjoyed the track because it has the Obi type of groove that you can follow, intereSting…
    Bitterman, I was suprised to read your prediction/ premonition of Cogimelo Drunkards … Hmmmm

    Reply
  • Death Metal Nightmare

    this sounds like they recorded the guitars through peavey Bandit 112. the solos sound like some 12 year old kid who got his first lesson at a fucking Brass Bell.

    “days of black metal before the professionals took over and turned it into the same old thing everyone else is doing.”

    or, on the contrary, you get horrendous bands like this celebrated because you literally have nowhere else to turn in this genre. my kitsch is the best kitsch. i said so. here are my pure and traditional reasons.

    Metal Try Hards. gotta love it.

    Reply

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