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Whatever happened to good old-fashioned punk-driven metal? Not necessarily mainstream crossover, but rather harsh, bitter metal music with that pissy, anarchistic vibe. Obviously they just don’t make it like they used to…hell, they don’t even MAKE it anymore, near as I can tell, and should a band of that musical caliber comes to pass they better know how to do it right, consarnit!
That’s how I felt when I started tackling this WITCHMASTER album…
I’ll say this much…WITCHMASTER are able to do the cover art justice in terms of evoking its dirty ugliness, musically. The previously mentioned harsh and bitter metal meeting the pissy vibe of punk is totally present, ugly as sin and caked in inches-thick layers of rust. And it’s done with such crazed ferocity that at times I couldn’t help but chuckle at the extremity of it all. The only other act able to get such a giggle out of me has been BEHEMOTH and all their Best Comedy Albums of the Year, and this is almost up to their level. In the performance WITCHMASTER seems pretty hell-bent on creating a naturally dingy and dismal atmosphere through usage of annihilating deathly guitar riffs, wild abandon solos, punchy, blast beaty drum work and heavily accented hollering vocals (complete with feedback and a few mistakes here and there), something that may have been lost should the group used a more glossy production value (doing so would’ve definitely taken much of the fun out of this), and its performed with a rather adolescent approach to things, something you don’t hear from even younger acts in this day and age. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect album, or even a great one…there’s always a time and place for head-bashing extremity, and I can’t say that this would be the kind of album that would warrant consistent exposure due to its angst alone. The song lengths themselves, though short, seem longer than they need to be as a result of the anarchistic feel of the overall performance; the longest song is almost five minutes long, but sometimes it feels like fifteen, and the bludgeoning effect of the cascading riff work heard on songs like “Self-Inflicted Divinity“, “Road to Treblinka“ and “Two-Point Suicide” veer off into different directions almost second-by-second, leaving outsiders gasping for air amidst the choking smog of musical monstrousness. Intense, yes, but imperfect nonetheless.
In the end WITCHMASTER would truly have a place in the metal underground, but one would really have to be a certain mood to enjoy such insanity. Recommended primarily for those who are balls-deep in this sort of thing.