The record to date of Witchbones‘ creativity is something like the sudden and explosive release of immense pressures building within a vacuum-sealed canister. This Portland band’s sole creator, Vardlokker, took the form of Witchbones only last year, but beginning in January of this year has generated a torrent of releases — three EPs, two compilations, a debut album (We Haunt Ourselves), and now a second album, The Seas of Draugen. The previous recordings were self-released digitally (with Death Kvlt Productions handling the Akasha 2 compilation), but this new album will be ushered into the world by Iron Bonehead Productions, on CD and LP.
Like the undead horrors from Norse myth that are referred to in the album’s title, The Seas of Draugen is indeed a preternaturally horrifying black/death assault on the senses, one that seems to intertwine aquatic themes with otherworldly monstrosity. It generates waking nightmares through sound, none more terrifying than the title track we’re presenting today in advance of the album’s December 6 release.
With no warning and no mercy, “The Seas of Draugen” (the song) plunges the listener into a maelstrom of dense, writhing riffs, brutally pounding drums, and horrific bellows and roars, quickly creating a blood-freezing conjunction of cold, morbid atmosphere and eviscerating cruelty. This senses-enveloping storm of sound rises and falls in a feverish display of madness and ferocity, punctured by blasts of crazed, brazen chords and cauterizing shrieks. There are a few unexpected pauses, as if allowing the listener a big gulp of air before the grinding and mauling resumes, and just past the mid-point the music becomes a sequence of catastrophic detonations followed by relentless drum blows in the midst of cyclonic chords and squirming leads. One final echoing howl and one long shriek of feedback closes this massive attack, leaving shivers to continue running up and down the spine.
The song (and the album as a whole) leaves no doubt about Witchbones‘ mastery over the megaton armaments of blackened death metal warfare, but the band’s success in simultaneously creating an unnerving atmosphere of paranormal horror sets it apart. If you’re looking for explosive, skull-plundering ferocity with something more in the mix to tantalize your senses, and to pull you back into the music repeatedly, this will fix you up.
Look for the album via Iron Bonehead on the 6th of December, and in the meantime you might want to explore Witchbones‘ previous releases at Bandcamp. You might also want to check out the one track previously released from The Seas Of Draugen, a stream of which we’re including below. That track, “The Candle Burns Alone (Dead Sailors)“, is so catastrophic and terrorizing that any souls hardy enough to survive our own premiere will surely be vanquished by it.