When I was asked to review an album by a band from Southern California, I was expecting something influenced by Guns N’ Roses or Mötley Crüe. One quick look at the band name and logo quickly changed that: Witch Casket, as the name suggests, is straight up death metal, with symphonic elements adding an expansive touch.
The album in question is Witch Caket’s debut, named Hatred Index. Clocking in at just under the 25 minute mark, it contains six tracks where lead singer and band leader Drogoth explores different kinds of growls and screams, as he talks about dystopian societies, demonic beings and tortured souls. Underneath the growls, pulsating bass lines and dynamic drums hold the fort, while crushing guitars add dissonant melodies. Very discrete keyboard parts and orchestral arrangements give the final touch. The album cover doesn’t leave any question about their direction either: it shows a gallows pole commanded by a priest-like figure, while post-apocalyptic police guard the scene under a menacing moon. Not a collection of wedding songs then, eh?
Three videos have already been released for songs in this EP: “That Damn Evil”, “Hatred Index” and “The True Knot”. All three have different styles and will give an indication of what their live shows may be like, while you get to know what the band look like sporting a unique style of makeup.
As the title track kicks in, double bass drums and down-tuned guitars quickly give away the band’s mission statement. It’s safe to say they are influenced by Norwegian black metal, but with a sound that’s not one-dimensional. Some well-placed guitar licks and solos provide breathing space and dynamic between the verses. “That Damn Devil” starts with a pulsating bass line, before a proggy riff takes over with tinges of djent, and the vocals approach screamo territory.
“Dawn Everlasting” shows the band approaching a more traditional type of metal and mixing it with death-styled riffs, and has one of the quickest drum parts I’ve listened to in recent years. “History of Violence” is also a combination of different styles, starting off with syncopated guitars which are not uncommon in the heavier side of prog-rock, before once again presenting the listener with a barrage of riffs and arpeggios and impossibly quick drum parts. “The True Knot” closes the album with epic demonic chants, bells and orchestral parts.
While Witch Casket does not bring anything new to the death metal style yet, the musicians involved are certainly capable of playing and pour their souls into this debut effort. A few more years honing their songwriting skills and they will certainly leave their mark in sub-genre that suffers from over-saturation and copycat bands. Witch Casket are poised to explode on the metal scene with a crushing brutality, a high-energy live show, and are ready to deliver to the masses their fresh brand of melodic blackened death metal. Fancying some brutal metal riffs and growls emanating from the pits of hell, with surprising nuances of other styles here and there? Make sure to check this guys out.
Hatred Index was released independently on April 27th.