Band: Witch King
Album: Voice of the Ossuary
Label: Blood Harvest
Genre: Black/Death Metal
Country: United States of America
Release Date: 14 September, 2018
Witch King are a Black/Death metal band from Rhode Island. First appearing on my radar just a few months ago due to them having a show with a semi-local band I like; unable to make it there, I kept the name in the back of my head for the next time a release or show was announced. A short while later I saw that Blood Harvest announced a new album by none other than Witch King; kicking around the scene since 2008, releasing six demos, one EP and a split in that time. The ten years since their inception have brought us to Voice of the Ossuary.
The first thing anyone will notice once they hit play is the suffocating production. It creates a bit of an atmosphere, but it also sounds like you’re listening to it through speakers you found in your grandparent’s basement, while you’re in the other room with your ear placed on the wall. This was a bit tough for me to get past for the first few songs; I almost passed on reviewing it initially because of the overbearing nature in the preview track, but I’m glad I didn’t. Something about the band intrigued me enough to give this album a full shot in spite of my initial apprehension. As for the production, I learned quickly if you turn it up loud, you get a clear enough, though still properly muddied, picture of what Witch King are about.
Sean McQuade on guitar, Ethan Facincani on bass and vocals, and Ben Lopez on drums; Witch King are the proud purveyors of putrid, and filthy Black/Death metal. The material on this album borders on War metal, or mostly Bestial Black at times but I prefer calling it Unholy and Evil Black/Death. It sticks to some of the Bestial/War metal tropes, the production being the most prominent, but also the feverishly pounding drums and the chaotic wall of noise at times. This combines with other sections of the record, where they are dealing in deep and murky death metal territory, creating a savage and primitive aural assault.
The vocals come in two different styles; the deep cavernous death rumble, and the manic shriek of black metal. Both styles are used as throughout the album in varying capacities; the primary vocal style is the low end growl, with the shriek coming in frequently. Each style of vocal performance was utilized perfectly on this album; it always matches the music and never feels out of place or forced. For example in some sections where it might be common to include both styles simultaneously, they may not; this makes it more impactful when it is employed.
The first song I’d like to highlight is the appropriately named ‘Jehovah Grinder’, a short, brutal, blast and grind fest with a great blend of both vocals and brief slow-downs. This song just sounds like pure evil, from the ripping and grinding opening to the throat-splitting vocals through the middle, and the slower haunting section before brutalizing you again on the way out. ‘Howling Beyond the Veil’ was another song that instantly stood out to me; I really liked the riffing on this song and the thunderous steamrolling section where it feels like the speakers are trying to crush you. Album closer ‘Astral Desecration’ was an instant favorite for me, I just kept replaying it and I’d always get hooked right from the beginning. No matter how many times I replayed this album, I couldn’t find a track I wanted to single out as bad, sub-par, or even out-of-place. Front to back, and on repeat again, this is a great album if you’re into this sub-genre.
Witch King waited a while to release a full-length, and it shows. There is maturity, and most importantly there is a solid vision of what this band is and sounds like. This isn’t an album that wants to be accessible, and that’s okay. For some people that may be what keeps this album, and the band, at arm’s length; those prepared to wade through its thick air, and unrelenting attack, will be greatly rewarded.
1. Rejection of the Light
2. Void Emissary
3. Apocalypse Tribe
4. Voice of the Ossuary
5. Savage Conquest Upon Holy Lands
6. Jehovah Grinder
7. Howling Beyond the Veil
8. Mocking the Seraphim
9. Final Annihilation
10. Astral Desecration
Total Playing Time: 36:11