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The Devil Pulls The Strings Which Make Us Dance - 82%

CHAIRTHROWER, December 6th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2016, Digital, Independent

Its malefic albeit stylish cover art withstanding, Ohio's Wytchord is a fairly nascent doom act gratifyingly alternating between sludgy, funerary guitar riffs backed by a plump, menacing rhythm section which sounds like it’s rising from six feet under and portentously sped up alt-rock dirges perfect for liberally cruising down the Night Road (Joe Hill style). Comprised of T.H.A.L. (The Heathens Are Loose) members Vince Green as the cavernous n’ cadaverous front man/bassist and drummer Kevin Hartnell with six-stringer David Jones the Columbus natives’ full-length debut, Death Will Flee (independently released Halloween of 2016 on digital format and CD under Overlook Hotel Records) follows a similar muddy path as fellow Mid-Western outfits such as Attalla, Wretch, Spirit Division and Close The Hatch - that is, a saturnine stomping and swaying romp towards a sordid celebration under darkened skies and glowing moon.

Its four minute long instrumental opener, “Seventh Son", begins to the tune of airy chimes and a low, drawn-out demon growl as an ominous horn driven preamble languidly crawls out of the ground but for some reason I’m reminded of an African Serengeti nature documentary – I’m almost expecting frolicking gazelles and herding elephants at this point; thankfully, a maritime affecting Collective Soul style guitar progression takes over with “Blackened Path” and Green’s laid back, haughty vocals, sustained as they are by a cloying and poised stop & go motioned, crunchy guitar riff and even-keeled, mountainous drum beat. Leads are unrushed, bluesy and tinged with a spacey, psychedelic flair; either fuzzed the hell out or clean as a whistle.

You know me though – I’m a sucker for ramped up, hard-driving humdingers which eschew build-up and grace. A rough, rapidly swelling liberator in the form of “Flowers” is where things really get interesting: a schizoid “patti-cake” drum smack preceding a gratuitous wah/reverb drenched guitar solo and rumbling return to form is surely a top highlight before a rather arch-typical droning title track (also released as a single) skirts Soundgarden territory; not that there’s anything wrong with that. Only I can hardly wait for it to end in order to bang my head, pump my fist and ruefully sing along to the wicked “highway riding” cut which is the all-too short “Divine Despair”. The bass tone and surround is tremendous, as well as greatly enhanced by the masterful level of production. In fact, it’s possibly one the thickest – while not overly polished either - I’ve heard in a goat’s age (ah, goat-ly!).

Suffice to say, Wytchord’s most appealing aspect is its rich, bottom heavy sound, especially on the swifter numbers; while “The Change” is weighed down with more of a mid-tempo, brawny swagger reminiscent of The Obsessed, dig the swarthy up-tempo boogie of “Horizon”, easily the catchiest of the eight. As well, credit is due to Green for allowing the listener to understand what’s going on without having to strain as to catch every word, which is very often the case with occult themed shenanigans of this variance. Overall, each track is expressive and atmospheric, especially the drawn-out and swampy closer “Digress”, on which Green's vocals are imbued with a husky Appalachian accent.

With Death Will Flee Wytchord has stoutly carved its niche among its peers - no easy feat when it comes to doom metal. I, for one, am eager to hear how the band’s sound will evolve. Here’s to a potential sophomore in the near future.

“She begs her wretched God from a cage of her own design,
He rises from the orchard filled with trees of wasted lives,
The time has come to feast on every soldier,
Bloody skies.
When the rebels came to conquer,
She's the Queen they left to die.”