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Wormwitch - Wolf Hex

Wormwitch
Witch Hex
by Chris Hawkins at 28 September 2021, 2:00 PM

After spending considerable time listening to “Wolf Hex,” the latest album from Vancouver’s resident Blackened Death ensemble,    WORMWITCH, I understand the hype surrounding them.  Theirs is a sound synthesized from extensive musical vocabularies sampled from the likes of BATHORY, SATYRICON, and more melodic influences such as DISSECTION (more on them specifically later) though the case can be made that the band temper their darker side with a healthy dose of classic Heavy Metal.  Admittedly, this was an album that did not initially grab me; however, after having so much exposure to it and then returning later, I have gained the proper perspective to reflect on it.

There is no way around the fact that the first track, “Lunar Maniac,” is a throwaway.  At just one minute in length, it barely qualifies as an intro, but this is what is offered.  It is not until “Canadian Denim Mountain Attack” arrives that the album really feels like it has taken off.  Beginning with a furious main riff, the thought arrives that this is just a typical Black Metal track, nothing special though that is certainly not the case.  After a successful transition, the band ups the ante at the 1:43 mark with a devastating breakdown.  It is one of the many moments during this album where everything seems to just come together for the band – where their collective vision is unobscured.

The feeling of surprise persists with the following track, “The Wolves of Ossory”.  For any of the indoctrinated, the beginning of the song will conjure images of the mighty DISSECTION.  Sure, it emerges with a distinctly “Where Dead Angels Lie” basis, but the song then takes a different, decidedly more melodic direction.  Before one has had the time to process that transition, the song has become an all-out Blackened Thrash storm of fury and mayhem.  Oscillating between that IMPALED NAZARINE mode and a straight-forward Heavy Metal approach keeps things interesting.  These first two proper tracks conclude the portion of the review dedicated to the band’s Black Metal style for the band now progresses into a merging of that slant with a rowdy Death ‘n Roll angle.

This other side of WORMWITCH first appears with the fourth track, “Hammer of the Underworld”.  The swaying, staggered groove is undeniable in its intensity evoking drunken Metal moments listening to MOTORHEAD and VENOM.  Their sound is all their own, though, and this mid-career-ENTOMBED approach is continued with the sixth track, the aptly titled “Abracadabra”.  Undoubtedly, it is at this mark where the album comes into its own.  The aforementioned convergences of styles and influences ultimately convene in a macro sense with this nasty, fist-pumping anthem.

Speaking to the album’s production, it straddles the line between slick/modern and underground.  Simply put, it is not so clean to earn it disrepute in the underground, yet it lacks the technical hiccups that would alienate more mainstream fans.  The vibe is definitely a late ‘90s, Second Wave affair, an atmosphere absolutely nailed in the studio.
It seems the hype for WORMWITCH is well-deserved.  Much like contemporaries such as UADA and ABIGAIL WILLIAMS, the band have cultivated a distinctly Blackened point of view into a sound that incorporates so much more.  Bands such as these North American trailblazers are expanding the definition of Black Metal with compelling albums like “Wolf Hex,” one that has its own unique vibe and is well packaged and conceived.  To top it all off, the band include a formidable cover of the METALLICA classic “Hit the Lights” as the final track.

Songwriting: 8
Originality:  8
Memorability:  8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Lunar Maniac
2. Canadian Denim Mountain Attack
3. The Wolves of Ossory
4. Hammer of the Underworld
5. The Crimson Proof
6. Abracadabra
7. Leering Crystal Effigies
8. Grail
9. Teeth of the Dawn
10. Hit the Lights
Lineup:
Robin Harris – Bass, Vocals
Israel Langlais – Drums
Kyle Tavares –Guitars
Colby Hink – Guitars
Record Label: Prosthetic Records
     


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