Monday, January 27, 2014

Witch In Her Tomb - Maleficus Malecifarum [2013]

I'm sure that Witch In Her Tomb's eponymous demo back in 2012 blew off a good deal of ears off, even if it was neglected in mainstream metal communities; and continuing to retain the ''cult'', or ''bedroom black metal'' style that they readily enveloped in their demo, the Illinois act released their debut EP, ''Malecifus Maleficarum''. The demo was just bliss: walls of pure grinding, searing buzz, aching with incoherent barks and even punk-like inclinations, occasionally giving way to atmospheric ambient effects to focus on the sheer depravity of the music. It was a concoction of early Scandinavian black metal aesthetics, namely early Burzum, Ragnarok or Darkthrone, and rawer parchments that were somewhat inclined towards their national precursors, unremitting walls of sound that could configure an image of both decadent modernity and primordial motives; something quite frankly not unheard of in our wretched 21st century. What precedes is a sound and limited set of styles delivered through a very similar wall of underproduced buzz, punching through a briefer 7 minute EP.

Granted, anyone who gave early Darkthrone a fair amount of listens won't find anything excruciating about the music here; and in fact I thought the band lost some of the edgy, unremitting currents of sheer force on their demo. Much of the influences have, to be sure, been kept in store with the same amount of diligence and the same level of worship, but there's a certain lassitude to the three songs which, I think, emanates from a reduced reliance on punk. The guitar is thick and pungent, incapable of being counter-smothered by the drums, charging through the dilapidated production with sheer atrocity and visceral accuracy; but the drums are a bit out of focus, giving very little room physical malignity of the EP. And who wouldn't be, in that density! Like most raw black metal drums beats, they lack essence and touch, just a simple tool for keeping the incursion fueled. And although I liked the vocals, they too were somewhat stale; just meager practices in guttural wretchedness. There are a few moments where the riffs draw to more fascinating, and emotionally more inviting moments, such as in ''IX'', where the guitars spring forth a twang of scattering tremolos, and, for once, keeping their pace below the usual standard.

As you may well expect, there's nothing overly florid here, just a handful of slim-picked riffs that shower the listener in cascades of mourn, agony and relentless contempt. There are besides the one aforementioned, one or two moments which felt particularly memorable like the concluding serenades that accompanied the last seconds of the final track, as if drawing the curtains of some ceremonious festivity in some elaborately agonizing way. To be sure, Witch In Her Tomb, is in full command of the base black metal aesthetics, maybe even more so from many of its peers. There are acts which possess a fondness for the same vituperative, vilifying languor of black metal at its rawest, and while Witch In her Tomb can still outshine, in grimness, several of these acts, the use of black metal as an implication for desolation, depravity, depression and calamity, nightmares and unimaginable despairs is one practice which has been held in such frequency over the last decade that this Illinois obscure cannot hope to beat them in one simply-purveyed attack. Imagine, if you can bear it, the tactile mourn and sense of obfuscated despair that bands like Leviathan, Xasthur or Inquisition can implement, and in such acuity! This is not to say that I'm comparing a falconet to a modern aerial bombardment; but Witch certainly needs to step up its game if it wants to compete with any of these harbringers of depression. For a frivolity, ''Maleficus Meleficarum'' is a fine listen, one that ought to dust off your ears upon immediate impact, but as I was kind of hoping the band could expand its retinue with the following release, I was disappointed by the simplicity of the EP. Nonetheless, any raw or depressive black metal connoisseur should give this a listen. It is, after all, free.


Rating: 70%

Free download at bandcamp: Maleficus Maleficarum

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