Witches Mark – Witching Metal Ritual

by Brett Stevens
July 22, 2013 –

witches_mark-witching_metal_ritualThis affectionate tribute to the days of classic metal, both NWOBHM and its more bombastic American cousin, fits into the same vein as material like Gehennah, Nifelheim or Diamonsnake: it’s catchy, with overemphasis on the flourishes of the past, but can be compelling for its sentimental view of the world that comes off as poetic.

Witching Metal Ritual features motives from the initial heavy metal era but played with the energy and less responsive drumming of hardcore punk, with occasional touches of the speed metal techniques of the early 1980s. However, what drives this recording are its melodic moments and the use of lead guitar as a running commentary to create a sense of detachment.

Vocals are chants with harmonized singing at intervals, and these complement the guitar, but it is the six-string that sustains emotion. If the album has an achilles heel, it is that too much of this guitar is lead which introduces complexity with more variety in riff could have been powerful. Similarly, drums may be a bit too detached for this style, although it creates an interesting effect.

Witches Mark are more creative than most of the bands who attempt this style and forge a unique sound for themselves that seems influenced by some of the more proggish material in the metal world of late, but is based very much in simple heavy metal riffs and grandiloquent moments where a collision by one or more motifs creates the kind of “heaviness” that metal is famous for.

However, much like later Ihsahn, the tendency to fill sparse songs with internal complexity can lead to listener disorientation and often prevents themes from fully developing. However, the faithful rendition of the past, including a vocalist with a wide range and crystal pipes, may over-ride that with a mood that is hard not to like.

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3 comments

  • Carg

    Something in the production and the spasticity of this makes it almost wholly unlistenable, for me. I’ll give it another try later, but right now this sounds like ‘core sensibilities applied to ’80s metal.

    Reply
  • Dominating Fucker

    beer – check
    anarcho-tough guy posing – check
    sluts, fire and smoke – check
    My shelves are packed; i´d have to remove one of the albums on my shelf to add this one. Would I do that? Would this take the spot where my Iced Earth, Stratovarius and Helstar albums rest? I don’t think so. I enjoyed this promo because it made me run to my Judas Priest, Tank and Savage albums… Loose n’ Lethal anyone?

    Reply
  • bitterman

    Filling sparse songs with internal complexity. This is what ruined Metallica’s AJFA after a while. It’s also why I believe Cryptopsy lost their focus on None So Vile (good songs interrupted by off-kilter groove sections, omen of the metalcore to come) and why most Coroner songs are boring (failure to convey song message effectively: unnecessary instrumental masturbation). You can also apply this to the new Gorguts.

    Reply

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