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A ferociously talented first album, Witchrist’s Beheaded Ouroboros erupts with a salvo of dark, torturous riffing, pounding drum-work, and ghastly vocal emissions. Comparisons to black/death luminaries Teitanblood and Truppensturm couldn’t be more apt. Just recently New Zealand has achieved certain notoriety for producing some of the best contemporary acts in extreme metal. Spearheaded by the likes of Diocletian, Ulcerate and now Witchrist, such bands have become known for their staggering ambition, their prolificacy, and their extraordinary stylistic pyrotechnics.
Beheaded Ouroboros is simply no exception. Take the droning, woeful riffs of Incantation, the bone-crushing heaviness of Bolt Thrower and sprinkle it with the morbid song-craft of Funebrarum and the result would essentially sound like this. This is not to say Witchrist is a pale imitation of the aforementioned styles but is a band that plays according to their own vision and strengths, whilst embracing said influences. For the most part, the album stays comfortably mid-paced with occasional, sporadic bursts of speed. The doom segments are executed quite effectively here, which no doubt adds to the already massive and weighty feel of the album. Despite being tagged “war metal”, Witchrist musically bears little resemblance to its brethren Revenge, Blasphemophager, or Proclamation. In many ways, Witchrist shares a lot in common with Diocletian, both in compositional build and production aesthetics (Which should come as no surprise considering both share members); The former being the slower, and svelte counterpart whereas the latter being the speedier, more rambunctious of the two. Both are awesome, of course.
Opening up with the longest track of the album, Sorcerer of Lightening, Witchrist immediately impresses with a first strong volley; Cavernous, lurching riffs takes the listener on a slow, perpetual descent to hell while wretched, bestial howls of Unjesus (I swear these names…) emanates from his ravenous, blood-thirsty maw. The first few minutes are deceptively slow, but once the song quickly gains ground you’ll be exposed to some of the finest Black/Death metal 2010 has to offer. The drumming, while not exemplary by all means, manages to keep a tight and unified rhythm. The following tracks essentially add minor variations to the whole formula, making Beheaded Ouroboros a wonderfully cohesive experience. Production-wise, the album sports a thick and heavy bottom end. I would’ve preferred the snare to sound thicker, but that’s just a trivial complaint. Everything remains audible while being both suitably heavy and dirty. When it’s all said and done, Witchrist’s debut is simply killer material. It has enough flare and conviction to put most Incantation clones to shame. Another fine release from the ever reputable Invictus Productions.
Brewing deep in the New Zealand underground are bands such as Ulcerate, Diocletian and Witchrist, biding their time and waiting for an opportunity to have mankind experience their wrath. Beheaded Ouroboros is Witchrist's debut full length output, and promises 40 minutes of solid, primitive death metal.
If one were a fan of dirty and primitive bands, with a dark atmosphere such as Vasaeleth, Impetuous Ritual and of course, Diocletian, the fare that is presented on Beheaded Ourorobos will immediately be familiar. The band pushes themselves (and their listeners) to the extreme, opening with the longest track on the album Sorcerer of Lightning, with a slow build up to the climax and drenching the music with a dense atmosphere that almost makes it hard to breathe. If you thought Impetuous Ritual was heavy, wait till you listen to Beheaded Ouroboros. Just imagine the works of the aforementioned band, put to a slightly slower pace (even on the faster sections of the album), with the same down-tuned instruments, but with a muddier/heavier production job. Session vocalist Imprecator's vocals are tortured as fuck, and he alternates between undecipherable gurgling growls and blood curdling shrieks, fitting, and at times even going so far as to enforce the demented and ritualistic atmosphere of the music well.
Getting past the opening track, the rest of the album becomes easier to appreciate (especially for listeners who are not used to something this raw and bestial). Devour the Flesh skips the slow build up, and instead sees the band opting to just throw everything out at the listener without any reserve, and this is of course something welcome for speed maniacs. As per most other similarly styled bands, there are chaotic and seemingly senseless guitar solos included, sounding almost as if the notes are picked out of random. Adoration of Black Messiah also sees the band include some ethnic instruments, though these serve to be there just so that the band can desecrate them later, and of course, how could the usual tolling of the bells be forgotten?
With Beheaded Ouroboros, Witchrist has exemplified the utter insanity that they are able to come up with. Suffice to say, this record has managed to put their country on the international extreme metal map, and ensures that no sane man is left standing at the end of the record.
This is the first full-length album from Witchrist, a New Zealand band playing death metal.
The production on this album is shockingly heavy; the crushing bass and down-tuned guitars summon a solid wall of thunder, broken only by the crisp cymbals and echoing, howling vox. Even so, the individual riffs are just audible beneath, giving this album an impact you can feel in your gut. Turn it the fuck up!
Witchrist combine Realm of Chaos-era Bolt Thrower, old Incantation, and militant black metal into a monolithic mass of eerie, shifting riffs and pounding drums. Slow, doomy sections occasionally break the surface, struggle, then drown beneath the churning surface. Something like this could easily have been entirely devoid of structure, but the discerning listener will discover a rich vein of distinct riff patterns and drum lines beneath the chaos; songs like "The Cauldron" pack multiple layers of guitar work into a single coherent whole. Likewise, the filthy, disgusting vocals lurk just within the realm of sanity, luring the unwary listener into penetrating deeper into the secrets of the Beheaded Ourorboros.
This album's combination of overwhelming atmosphere and hidden complexity is exceptional; both are in full flourish here, yet neither subtracts from the other. This album is a constant challenge -- mesmerizing and hypnotic one moment, mind-blowingly complicated the next -- and thus rewards multiple listens like no other. From the crushing, reverberating force of "Sorcerer of Lightning" to the dual-vocal insanity of "Deathbitch", there's more than enough for three or four albums here... which is probably why Beheaded Ouroboros is better than any three or four albums I can name this year, also.
I simply cannot heap enough praise on this release. It's albums like this which have kept the torch burning for the last twenty years... and if Witchrist is any example of the creativity and vital force which remains within metal, the fire will blaze for decades yet to come. Highest recommendations.
Standout tracks: "Temple of War", "The Cauldron", "Deathbitch"
Review by vorfeed: http://www.vorfeed.net