I've known about Witchaven for about a year or two now, and I finally bought their début full length, Terrorstorm, recently, which is something I've been meaning to do for a while. Witchaven are an underground band done right, a band who have rightfully earned their cult-following, with many fans both in the USA and indeed world-wide.
I'd consider Witchaven to be more on the thrash end of the spectrum than on the black-metal end, and the band certainly give this impression with their riffs and especially their lyrical themes - It's good to hear a thrash band who still sing about how, to put it bluntly, the world is a bit fucked. There are songs dealing with corruption, forced-labour, drugs, and terrorism. The use of samples really hammers these themes home, and helps to unambiguously declare what the songs are all about. The black-thrash element of their sound may not be as prominent as that of their peers - bands like Skeletonwitch, for example, but it still adds some vitriol to the proceedings, with a sharp, horned edge, in the same way as bands like Sodom are dark and evil-sounding, but perhaps not full-on black-thrash. I'd be lying, however, to say that black-metal influence was so dilute as to be vague and undetectable - There is plenty of tremolo-picking and other sure-signs of demonic possession, and some songs, "Empty Chasm" in particular, are practically the opposite way around to most of the bands material on this album - almost more black than thrash. Witchaven, I feel, might be something akin to the USA's answer to bands like Ketzer.
The band's crunchy riffs are very much the way thrash-metal riffs should be - speedy, angry, and most of all flowing - there aren't any awkward transitions through the album, and in this respect the songs are very much seamless. The vocals really burst out of the songs too, woven nicely into the rest of the music. Typically taking the form of a very rapid-fire rasp, which manages to be very memorable in how it's structured, these vocals really take the songs up into a different league. The combination of vocals and guitar really seem to give the music a feeling of rage which you can't help but get energy from, and while it's not the fastest thrash I've ever heard (although the tempo is certainly eye-opening in places), it's got an insanely rabid energy to it, and if I were to see them live, I'd definitely fear for the well-being of my neck. It's hard to place exactly where this sound fits in the grand scheme of things. It's not quite modern, but not quite retro either - Witchaven seem to be doing thrash the tried and tested way, but also manage to keep it current, and add plenty of seasoning to the mix which keeps it damn interesting to listen to.
Some début albums have a certain feel to them - a sincerity and honesty which suggests they'll live up expectations - Witchaven's Terrorstorm is definitely an album of this type. There's no sense of showing-off, or any "look how great we are" sentiment, which most modern thrash bands seem to give-out to some extent. Instead, Witchaven are in the better position of simply being a thrash band who made a thrash album. And that album is good. The band hold a lot of promise.
I'm thinking an 8/10 for this.
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