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A surprising element - 84%

hailmarduk666, April 28th, 2009

So I am listening to the typical, beautiful black metal melancholy that exemplifies WITTR, and I hear something that made me double-take at my iPod to make sure that I am not listening to something else by mistake. Clean vocals? Wow, now that was something I never expected. "A Looming Resonance" is fantastic. A very slow and melancholy track, no blast beat drums, in fact it is difficult to hear any drums except the snare and cymbals. This is OK though, because the overall atmosphere of this song is complete and the drums being in the background bring more attention to the excellent musicianship, and about the halfway point of the song, there is a very nice interlude with minimal distortion in the guitars, and a soundbyte of the ocean in the back. At around the 8:30 point, once again, there is a surprise, where a woman's voice can be heard harmonizing with the singer. Everything crescendos to a beautiful thick soundscape, and drives mid-paced with some variational flares of guitar. A lot of cymbal work here can be heard doing great things for the overall atmospheric elements; Aaron's sticks really working those crashes. As the song fades, only the cymbals can be heard coupled with the sound of perhaps a rainstorm...I find it difficult to tell. All in all, a gorgeous song, and very enjoyable to me.

The second song, "Hate Crystal" is more the speed of WITTR, a quickened pace from the last track and black metal vocals again. There is a lot of cymbal crashing and blast beating coupled with furious guitars, and the vocals are farther back in the mix, bringing forward the drums (the most compared to the last track where they were soft by comparison), and the guitars. This song is much more distorted compared to any other song by this band that I can think of, it is very atonal, just a lot of layered atmosphere and reverberation from guitars, vocals and cymbals. The cymbals hang in the air, and keep adding into each other almost drowning out the melody, but there is enough to keep track of where the song is going. Halfway through the song, the din abates a little, the song moves away from the breakneck pace,the blast beats give way to a nice mid to fast-paced rhythm, and the band finally settles on a good little riff. There is a short interlude where the drums begin to pick up pace again, while sticking with the same riff, only to give way to a hollow hum, while the guitars fade out leaving only a keyboard playing a single dissonant chord, and the barely audible drums. With a minute left, the drums fade to oblivion, and only this strange note, and the album fades out, fin.

All in all a good release, nice, long songs, and some great elements that were different from other releases by these guys, and they pulled off the clean vocals really well. Unfortunately, the second song on the EP was less than stellar and detracted from the overall feeling that I got from the disc. Perhaps they were experimenting with their sound, or not; either way, they definitely have a place among the best in black metal here and the US, and I would venture to say, they are among the best in the genre.