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So Cult of Daath are back from a five year dry spell, and it seems they've decided to change their sound a bit. Doomed by the Witch witnesses the band dropping some of their black metal influences in favour of an old-school death/thrash sound. Three original tracks, one instrumental, and one cover may not be enough material to justify such an assumption, but I don't care because this demo rules. Doomed by the Witch is a perfect example of how to pay tribute to the forefathers of extreme metal without resorting to shameless imitation.
If you're familiar with Cult of Daath's previous work, Obscurum's vocal approach on this release may surprise you a bit. While his performance on Slit Throats and Ritual Nights brought to mind the early Norwegian scene, this release contains a much more guttural vocal approach. This is fine, because Doomed by the Witch is a demo which places a lot of emphasis on the lower end of the sound spectrum. That being said, I can't help but wonder if the more high-pitched and distorted vocals found on other CoD releases may have given this demo a more unique feel. Combining the ferocity of Obscurum's former vocal style with the band's new approach could yield some interesting results.
Immortum's guitar and bass on this album contribute classic riff-oriented work, with plenty of tremolo leads to keep things grim and frostbitten. From Temple to Abyss starts things off right, balancing massive bass-heavy riffs with some cool guitar leads and a devastatingly brutal pace. Each track has a really great balance of both instruments, and it's particularly nice to see that the bass hasn't been buried in the mix. Rumination I is a cool, albeit simple, guitar interlude that gives this short release a bit more depth and variety, while the title track can best be described as Possessed with equal parts Darkthrone and Venom. Spell Thrust is a lot of fun, incorporating more fast-paced riffs which reek of alcohol and 80's nostalgia. Finally, the band finishes things off with a cover of Profanatica's As Tears of Blood Stain the Altar of Christ. Considering the song is both an instrumental AND a cover, there's not a lot to say here; it's a cool track, and ends the demo on a notably “black metal” note. The last thing worth noting on this album, as with all Cult of Daath releases, is Obscurum's drumming. This guy knows how to drum, and doesn't feel the need to play as fast as humanly possible to convey a sense of brutality. I love the production on the bass drum(s) in particular, and his accenting is top notch. Though he rarely strays from fairly standard d-beat patterns, they fit the music perfectly and there's enough variation here to keep things interesting.
So there you have it. Cult of Daath are back, presumably, and playing a style of black metal firmly rooted in the foundations of the genre. I, for one, welcome this change but encourage the band to experiment with their sound a bit more. Apart from the aforementioned possibility of mixing up the vocals a bit, the band needs to be more productive! This demo came out two years ago, and so far the band has yet to record anything new. Cult of Daath are a great band, and I look forward to hearing more from them in the near future. Hurry up, guys.
It's been 5 years since their last record, and Cult of Daath have finally returned with the "Doomed By the Witch" Demo (their 3rd demo tape so far). Given their love of classic riffs and atmosphere, it's no surprise that they also love this classic form of release.
"Doomed by the Witch" is everything a good demo should be. It's short and all the material is solid, so it leaves the listener wanting more. This band is classified as "black metal" but this is black metal in the earliest sense, taking their cues from Venom. The production is strong, especially for a demo tape. You can tell that this duo has taken the time to refine their sound in the 10 years they've been playing together. They haven't gotten experimental or strayed from their blackened roots, so the past decade has been spent zeroing in on the perfect mix of 80s blackened thrash attack.
From the thunderous opening of "From Temple to Abyss," you know these guys mean business. The song erupts into a solid mid-paced riff with nice double bass thickening out the sound. No bullshit triggers, this drummer plays in the classic style and knows how to work a kick pedal. The guitar has the perfect buzzsaw tone with just the right about of reverb. Despite being a two-piece, even the bass stands out well in the mix. The track ebbs and flows between speedier riffs to slower breakdowns and back again, all without breaking a sweat. This isn't a band that needs to play as fast as possible to get their point across, they are perfecting the art of rockin' black metal that Venom invented and so many others have taken for granted.
The first track then fades out into the subdued acoustic passage 'Rumination I" for just over a minute before blasting back into the epic title track. A soaring lead opens over galloping drums. The drums break into a tight snappy beat during the verse before returning to the double-bass gallop that Wargoat is so damned good at. The accents he hits in this song almost remind me of classic crust or Japanese hardcore. You don't need to play blazing fast when you hit this hard!
Next we have the highlight of this tape, "Spell Thrust." This is my new favorite song by these guys. It's a perfect 80s banger over a tight d-beat with a chorus you absolutely want to pump your fist to. Finally they conclude with a cover of Profanatica's "As Tears of Blood Stain the Altar of Christ," a mostly instrumental track with a few guttural growls for punctuation. I must admit I'm not familiar with the original, but they make it sound their own. This is the most "black metal" sounding track on the tape, putting the Venom worship on hold to break into some speedier 2nd wave black metal riffs.
Nuclear War Now! always does a nice job with their releases, and this tape looks as good as it sounds. Nice pro-printed cassette with 2-color screenprinted foldout jacket. Some people might dismiss this as a mere 3 songs plus a cover and an acoustic interlude, just some filler before another proper release. Don't be fooled, this tape packs a serious punch! All in all, a solid release for a "demo" and hopefully an indication of more good things to come.