(Todd Manning wrote this review of the debut album by the band Witchgöat from El Salvador.)
With a name like Witchgöat, it’s safe to say we are probably not dealing with the latest Avant-Garde, Prog Metal sensation to sweep through the scene. Instead, these Salvadorians lay waste to everyone and everything in sight with their brand of Blackened Death/Thrash. Originally the brainchild of guitarist P. Scyther in 2016, the group issued their debut demo Umbra Regit via Morbid Skull Records, and now they are poised to release their full-length Egregors of the Black Faith on February 13th, also on Morbid Skull.
With their grim-as-hell artwork and general presentation, one might expect these guys to produce a whirlwind blast of Blackened noise a la Revenge or Conqueror, but that actually isn’t the case. While Witchgöat certainly owe a debt to ripping Black Metal, tons of molten Old School Metal and Thrash slag flow through their veins.
After a short intro, the listener is greeted with the opening salvo of “Proliferation of the Dark Souls” and “Black Vomit of Souls”. This one-two punch comes across as a mix of Impaled Nazarene at their punked-up, furious best, and the mighty Sarcófago, yet bits of classic Metal and Thrash are already starting to peek around the edges. The riffs will remind the listener of any of the bands credited with starting Death Metal, but still possess that Old School feel.
By the time “Emanations from the Underworld” hits, one can discern all that classic Kreator, Sodom, and Dark Angel influence. The marriage of Black Metal and Thrash is quite seamless. Of particular noter are P. Scyther’s guitar solos, which tend not only to shred, but also are flawless and memorable, and dare I say a bit melodic. Here is where the Classic Metal shines through — the solos shine through no matter what kind of cacophony is ripping underneath.
On “Putrefaction of Souls”, Witchgöat even bust out a circle-pit-worthy groove reminiscent of the classic Demolition Hammer tune “Human Dissection”. The album continues to move from one strength to the next. The closer, “Beyond the Soil of the Dead”, is a six-minute epic that seems to encapsulate everything Witchgöat do so well. Thrash riffs ram head-on into furious Black Metal in a whirlwind of violence. Midway through the track, the guitar begins interweaving serpentine melodic lines creating a sense of progression. The song closes with more thrashing brilliance, the intensity ramping up and up until silence suddenly arrives.
Witchgöat achieve a striking balance between brutality and memorability, between Black Metal and Thrash. For those who revel in grimness, this will offer a respite from the unrelenting assault without bringing their Kvlt credentials into question. And in the same breath, Thrash heads can throw this album on anytime they are feeling particularly evil. Let’s hope there is plenty more inspiration where this album comes from, because listening to these guys is like hearing an alternative history of Sepultura, one where their material only grew darker with time.