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Note: I'm reviewing here a sort of compilation of this band's works that is not listed on the Metal Archives page, featuring the Syzygial Miscreancy album in its entirety and then a collection of the band's demo material stacked on top of one another. It is NOT the Final Approach compilation. I don't know what exactly this is, so I'm going to assume it's some kind of promotional release by the label to commemorate the band's return to the scene. Bear with me here.
Florida's Hellwitch are a band with a big vocabulary, as is evident from one glance at the tracklisting on here that makes old Carcass look like High School spelling bee contestants in comparison. "Viral Exogence"? "Mordrivial Dissemination"? "Pyrophoric Seizure"? If this was anything other than an obscure 1990s extreme metal album I don't know what anyone would be able to make of it!
Okay, okay, that was exaggerating a little, but Hellwitch are a very eccentric band. This kind of sounds like what would happen if you took Atheist's rawer material, mixed it with some early Death, and then shook it up in a blender to get the kind of jaggedness and general uneasiness these compositions exude. This is very fast, blistering, complex stuff, and if you miss too much of it and let your attention drift, the music may become boring and it may lose you in its winding catacomb of insanity - it's happened to me. There's really nothing about this music that is easy to like or digest, and that's actually one of its strong points; such unabashedly uncommercial music is respectable, at least when done with a level of proficiency and instrumental talent. Yes, this is as good a middle finger to the mainstream as anything else released in the underground 90s scene, and Hellwitch manage to deliver some intelligent metal that still manages to thrash the fuck out.
So we kick off with a useless intro piece that served better being integrated into the song as is demonstrated on the demo recordings, and then we kick into "Nosferatu," a song which crops up quite often here and seems to be this band's trademark one. It's a good little song, with some nice riffs, but it's not the best the band have to offer. The rest of the album itself is divided between short, direct, ballsy thrashers and more complex, weird numbers like "Mordrivial Dissemination," which is my pick for the best song on this album, with its bizarre arrangements and haphazard riffs.
The bonus stuff is long, and there are actually three more versions of "Nosferatu" featured here, which I have dubbed "Nosferatwo," "Nosferathree" and "Nosfouratu" respectively. Once again, good song, but not the best; satisfactorily thrashy. I think the real gems in here are bigger, more epic songs like the melodic "Satan's Wrath" and "Fate at Pain's End." Some of the later songs are demo songs and are kind of glitchy, even skipping in places, and the end of the album suffers as a result. Although good old "Nosfouratu" at the end there is actually my favorite version, just for the antique nature of it when one of the band members says "Nosferatu, take one." I mean, it's the first take - that's special right there.
Always super fast and super technical, Hellwitch will make fans of prissy modern metal piss themselves in fear. Worthy.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com