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An exciting new band - 89%

Rippingheadache, July 21st, 2012

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.

Shockingly heavy, atmospheric yet complex - 95%

vorfeed, October 27th, 2010

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: