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Come on, you all know better than this - 50%

Noktorn, January 6th, 2011

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about here, exactly; Black Witchery seems late to the game with stuff like this. '05? Wasn't everyone bored with this style by 2000? This isn't to say it isn't a capable execution of this style of chaotic black metal (though I'm still unsure as to what 'capable' means in this context), but it isn't really anything awe-inspiring or even new for its time period. Plenty of bands have been doing this style of noisy, primitive, entropic extreme metal basically since 'Deathcrush' hit shelves, and it's not as though there aren't plenty of bands out there churning tapes out in this style across the world- I think Black Witchery just got to Osmose first.

This is squarely in that Blasphemy/Revenge/Conqueror/whoever else form of black metal: more emphasis on a feeling than riffs and melodies. Black Witchery seems to try to spice it up with murky ambiance complete with distorted, bassy synths and grumbled, ritualistic vocals, but that seems to be more a distraction than anything, or a way to pad out the running time of the album- they're not really gripping since they sound like the same stuff I have a hundred CDrs of from kids in basements across the globe. What's a little more interesting is when you pick the riffs out, which contrary to popular belief are more distinct in the production than people give them credit for as they occupy a pretty different space in the production than the drums; they're like normal black metal riffs played just a little bit off, with short, looping, basically random melodies that are more reminiscent of grindcore than black metal. The guitar tone sucks, but whatever, at least the results are the most interesting thing about this album.

I guess this is primitive, but I think that gives the band a little too much credit since I associate that term with music that has a bit more of a coherent vision and direction than this. This is more 'simple'- songs are composed of just a few riffs each that alternate in simple patterns ala 'Transilvanian Hunger' over a bed of noisy blast beats and ranting vocals. The primitivity of this album seems a bit too calculated to be genuine- the guitarist was in Burning Inside, for christ's sake- and overall I get the sense that this music was crafted with a particular target audience in mind. Black Witchery knows who they're playing too and have been a bit too careful to drape their music in all the trappings of the Nuclear War Now! crowd. Yeah, it's chaotic and noisy, but Black Witchery know that and crafted their music in such a way- it wasn't arrived at out of coincidence or happenstance.

The major pitfall of this album is that the music simply isn't that interesting. Yeah, it's noisy and chaotic, but I'm familiar with that and Black Witchery isn't doing much more than that on this release. The band doesn't add anything to the formula of being noisy and chaotic; it's rather mechanical in this regard and the band doesn't really attempt to surprise the listener or keep them guessing. Can it really be that chaotic when the music is so predicable? While I admire music with an aesthetic like this, Black Witchery are just doing something already established by other bands rather than blazing new trails. I have a feeling that for most of the people who revere this album, this was the first release of this style they heard; a few years and a few hundred albums of this same stuff later, it doesn't seem nearly as impressive.

Oh well. I don't think I'm losing anything by not really 'getting' this- as I said, there's only a few hundred other bands playing in this same style with a similar ethos. Black Witchery don't really do anything wrong, but what they do is more established and refined than they want you to think, and more importantly, I don't get the sense that a ton of effort went into the construction of anything on this release; I wouldn't go as far as to call it a cash-in, but everything about this album seems a little too easy and straightforward for music that's supposed to be so hard and confrontational.