From the bleak, wind blasted forests of Illinois, comes a grim funeral procession; a dirge for the wicked and wild spirits. Witch In Her Tomb’s self titled debut invokes the frost-bitten, Hessian roots of Black Metal’s history with skillful imprecision and gloriously underproduced intensity. Sure, if you have listened to pretty much anything from Darkthrone, Mayhem or Burzum, then Witch In Her Tomb holds no secrets within it’s musty crypts. It speaks to Witch In Her Tomb then that despite the nostalgia, the demo more than stands on it’s own merits, thanks to it’s modernized and Punk-injected edge.
I am not sure you could have a more powerful, static riddled bass sound than the ridiculous low end present on Witch In Her Tomb. Like the death rattle of Cthulu, the bass rumbles with a wet, jagged slice and overpowers much of the instrumentation. That’s not a complaint; “III” would be nothing without the thundering hammer strikes of bass chords. The only thing that can stand up to this Scepter of Suffering in terms of volume are the vocals; monotone perhaps, but dripping with hate and powered by the immolation of the soul no doubt. The guitars and drums have their place in this mad symphony, and play their roles accordingly, though they rarely star in this performance.
The real star here is the songwriting, which blends the classic Norwegian sounds with a sense of progression and modernization. Crust Punk and the early Norwegian Black Metal sound have always been a hop-skip-and-jump from each other, and Witch In Her Tomb further blurs that line, both musically and lyrically. While far more mired in the grim, Witch In Her Tomb reminds me of a more primitive, Mayhem-worshiping Young And In The Way album; tortured, bleak and very, very angry. This anger comes through in the lyrics, as songs deal far more with wrath and rage than Ragnorak or Rites of Summoning.
I would be remiss not to praise this demo not only for the quality, but also it’s distribution. Witch In Her Tomb are showing us the future of Extreme Music distribution, one that includes both profit and accessibility. Witch In Her Tomb is available on tape for a very fair price, so that collectors and hard copy enthusiasts can add to their massive hoard of limited edition content, but also available free of charge as an mp3 download. I shouldn’t have to explain just how wise this move is, and we can all hope that other bands use this model in the future.
And what a glorious and grim future indeed, for Witch In Her Tomb have the kind of sound to make waves in the current scene. Punk-edged Black Metal is big now, but unlike some of their contemporaries, Witch In Her Tomb have a stronger command of the actual Black Metal elements, not merely a layman’s understanding after a few hours of Darkthrone binging. It’s hard not to get excited about this band and their potential, and it has been hard for me to put down this demo. It’s cold, icy fingers are firmly gripped around my throat, and this aural asphyxiation is all I could ask for.