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Chaos Was Our Business… and Business Was Good - 90%

bayern, September 6th, 2017

Nearly twenty years after their mythical debut the Witches from Hell decided to shoot another full-length in the aether. It’s not that they have completely vanished from the social consciousness all these years; in fact, they were one of the few veterans that have always been around, reminding of themselves on more or less regular bases be it with a video, or an EP, or a demo, or the odd compilation. They’ve peppered the road from their first showing to the album reviewed here with short, episodic appearances thus leaving the fanbase in constant suspense as to what else might come out of their camp. Said fanbase was perhaps expecting something as beautifully chaotic and compulsively intricate as this first showing, but apparently such outbreaks of genius were not meant to occur as often on the earth plane…

Well, once every twenty years shouldn’t be considered too frequent a phenomenon, and the opus here comes to fill in a certain need… Or is there such a need still waiting to be filled in the first place? Not very likely provided that the metal audience has heard all possible aberrations and perversions within their favourite music’s scope; is there any more room left for surprises? Not really; not at the end of the first decade of the new millennium anyway. Any need in more witches’ spells on the ever-welcoming metal horizon? Definitely; bring them on!

And here they come, in spades at that from this highly entertaining spastic roller-coaster which sees the band working together like a well-polished machine, by all means sounding more organized and structured compared to their beginnings. Is this last statement supposed to be a compliment, though? Well, it depends on which approach one considers the more preferable one. These ears thoroughly enjoyed, and still do, the dishevelled, opulently violent but full of ingenious ideas debut, and at this stage still go back to it more often than any of the other recordings the guys have subsequently amassed. To those who are fonder of stricter organization running underneath the rampant metallic histrionics, the album here would be the safer choice although the moment the opening “Neolithic Journey” begins, the listener may get startled quite a bit as the introductory riff-salad is vintage early madness, the wild death metal dexterity unleashed just a step away from the dazzling brutality (Cryptopsy, Suffocation, etc.) movement. With much better production qualities the riffs click and clock with the utmost reverberation, helping things a lot on the more linear (“Mysteria”) material as well, the screamy over-the-top vocals doing their damage on the side in a resounding vociferous fashion.

There’s no precise shredding proficiency lost on “Days of Nemesis” with thrash stepping up more courageously the thrash/death duel interrupted for a bit on the brief weird psychedelic instrumental “Infernal Death”. “Opiatic Luminance” is a wild less controlled headbanger with spasmodic blast-beats taking turns with stylish intricate pirouettes the latter reaching their culmination on “Mythologicalies”, an immaculate shredfest with a myriad of time and tempo changes plus several delightful melodic “excursions”. “Irreverent Salvation” is a more orthodox thrasher with a few intriguing riff applications, death metal taking over on the title-track, another raging “beast” with disorienting time-signatures, excellent technical escapades, and unheralded aggressive deviations. “Epitome of Disgrace” notches up the brutality with chaotic Cryptopsy-sque riffage and later remains a top-tier technicaller with labyrinthine configurations and twisted melodic interference. “Final Approach” is not exactly the closer, and it impresses quite a bit with the seamless switches between styles, the surreal dramatic accumulations, and the virtuous speedy crescendos. After such an exemplary showdown what’s left is a short immediate closer to wrap it on without much complex fuss, and “Sought to Beguile” handsomely provides that, a short, right as rain thrashing piece.

A truly distinct return to the field the veterans nearly on the top of their game the chaos considerably toned down, the album meticulously constructed regardless of the couple of less bridled moments. The band should be mentioned alongside two other American outfits, Nokturnel and Vicious Circle since all the three formations have had a very similar career layout; all of them started around the same time with a furious, very technical, quite chaotic again, thrash/death metal hybrid; they took a very lengthy break before shooting their sophomore by retaining their brutal roots. Hellwitch appeared before the other two, but the break they took was the longest, and the polishing of the second coming was the biggest. With both full-lengths put together, in terms of vision and proficiency they soar above Nokturnel, but the technical ingenuity and the malicious verve of the Vicious Circle recordings edges them out for the premier position. Still, Hellwitch are by far the most known and most celebrated outfit of the batch, an achievement they’ve been enjoying largely thanks to this ferocious chaos that was the debut. Will this “Convocation” here ever reach the same golden status? Well, it remains to be seen how long the guys plan to remain (un)faithful servants to the Almighty Chaos…

Malevolence rises to the fore - 80%

autothrall, February 4th, 2010

Hellwitch is something of a legend in the Florida death metal scene. The band formed 25 years ago, released a slew of demos, EPs, and a single full-length (Syzygial Miscreancy) before disbanding. They reformed a few years ago and now return to the spotlight with their sophomore album Omnipotent Convocation, a smattering of intensely fast thrashing death metal which operates in the rarely visited territory that channels the speed and malevolence of peers Morbid Angel, the prowess of Atheist and the vicious sneering abandon of Sadus.

This band is crazy. Fast. And mean. Lyrically they tackle grandiose subjects both ancient and futuristic, a macrocosm of dark philosophical spite that might appeal to fans of the Mythos (akin to Morbid Angel), but is not limited to just that. If there were any doubts as to whether the band could pull off their lightning pace and aggression, they are quickly quelled by the opening tumult of "Neolothic Journey". Yes, this band is back, and you can forget about the past, since this album dominates all their past work within a few tracks. "Mysteria" thrusts full force forward with insane winding guitar licks and Patrick Ranieri's caustic vocal style which is highly charismatic in a 'daemon from an alternate reality that wants to EAT you' fashion. Fans of bands like Atheist, Sadus and the obscure Terrahsphere will be prepared for this, the rest of you will not. The band continues to wallop you with death race after death race, standout speedsters include "Irreverent Salvation", "Vicious Avidity" and the head spinning "Opiatic Luminance" with a little dash of Voivod in there. The band rarely brakes for anything, but even when they do, they still offer some interesting and wild progressive/tech death riffing (i.e. "Mythologicalies").

Omnipotent Convocation has a crispy tone of it that demonstrates well the constant flurries of guitars. Ranieri's snarl rides the top like an infernal charioteer. The drums and bass are likewise at the top of the game, and fans of technical death bands (Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, Nile, etc) will become quickly obsessed with miming the band's myriad of hooks. For all the strenghts of the album, I did not find most of the riffs to be memorable beyond a 'holy shit' reaction. But it's still a great listen, especially when you have the stamina and wherewithall to take it all in at once, and more than compensates for the band's previous absence from the mid 90s to 2004.