Thursday, November 8, 2012

Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor (2012)

Witchrist started out with a little more of a "blackened" influence in their music, though curiously enough, the tempo throughout their debut album, 'Beheaded Ouroboros', was predominantly slow and rather doomy. On this album, Witchrist have opted to shed the vast majority of the "black" bullshit in favor of a more early 90's death/doom approach ala Bolt Thrower. Actually, aside from Malignancy's 'Ignorance is Bliss' demo back in '97, this album is the closest I've heard a band get to the sound and more importantly, vibe, of Bolt Thrower's 1989 classic, 'Realm of Chaos- Slaves to Darkness'. The main difference being that Witchrist are infinitely more "doomy" than Bolt Thrower ever chose to be.

This is easily one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. I've really tried my hardest to get into a many of these throwback/neo-old school death metal bands that have been cropping up from out of the woodwork as of late as I grew up during the 80's/90's and my strongest musical impressions were made during that time. Unfortunately there is a severe lack of interesting riffs and spiritual understanding (-aka- FEELING!). Sure, a lot of these bands have given a mighty good stab at emulating their idols, and I'm not one to condemn them for that, but the overall vibe usually winds up coming short. Where earlier releases by bands such as Immolation, Incantation, Coffin Texts and Bolt Thrower truly sound haunting and colossal, many of their younger counterparts simply sound as if they are working with the table scraps of these giants. I'm more than thrilled to confidently say that Witchrist have somehow managed to harness the mojo that many of their generational  brethren have overlooked.

The sound on this album is absolutely crushing. This isn't the superficial "raw" sounding, cardboard "heaviness" that many these days insistently tout off as the be all end all of supposed "old school" recording techniques. That's not to say that this is an over produced affair, either. This sounds like it carries with it one of the better production jobs of the late 80's/early 90's (ie Sunlight studios, Colin Richardson, etc).

There is definitely a "war metal" feeling that makes its presence known at various junctures throughout the album, which is probably as "blackened" as it gets here. I'm glad for that as the 'war metal genre is certainly less fag friendly than straight up black metal. With their awesome and colossal "mountain leveling" sound, Witchrist absolutely smashes the lot of the black metal scene in its entirety. Nothing remains.

The vocals here on this album are different than the debut as the band, for whatever reason, changed singers. I actually prefer the former vocalist as he employed a variety of different growls, shrieks and other assorted goodies into his approach, whereas the singer on this album sticks to a midrange growl, which is fine and does nothing to hinder the music or the vibe, but I would've liked to have heard the more maniacal sounding vocals over the behemoth riffing on this album.

The Grand Tormentor is a winner on all fronts and as a result, I am already fiendishly looking forward to the band's next outing.


1 comment:

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