May 182023

Portugal’s Gallows Rites are as un-pretentious as they come. In their debut EP Witchcraft and Necro Desecration they announce their steadfast devotion to Lucifer, and never swerve from it. The music is a black thrashing glorification of the lord of Hell and all his minions, often primal and primitive but thoroughly saturated by the stench of sulphur and exulting in the kind of sonic sorcery that brings visions of witches’ covens to the mind’s eye.

Gallows Rites thrive in the fast lane, just as devoted to music that would stir up mosh pits into bloody froths as they are to the glory of the Lightbringer. But they also switch gears and moods in these five songs, in ways that make them even more attention-grabbing.

You will experience all this for yourselves today, because we have a premiere stream of the EP in advance of its release tomorrow — May 19thby Helldprod Records.

This is one of those records that’s fueled by the power of the riff. There’s just enough rawness and grit in the high-toned guitars to make those riffs sound feral and nasty, and they’ve got enough hooks in them to rival the punishment of Frank in Barker‘s Hellraiser movie. Gallows Rites also have a knack for seamlessly making variations in the riffs so that our tour of the underworld isn’t limited to the corners where bonfires race and madness reigns (among other things, they find regions dedicated to the extermination of hope).

What makes the music seem primitive and primeval is largely due to the work of the rhythm section. It’s not flashy — more the kind of thing that gets its own hooks in the reptile brain — but it’s effective, and there are enough exuberant drum-fills and changes in rhythm to augment the mood changes of the guitars.

As for the vocals, they’re… just… berserk.

The EP achieves ignition through the opener “Satanik Night“, and the song also introduces us to the way Gallows Rites use intro pieces in their songs to reinforce the EP’s supernatural setting. As the drums methodically pound with brutal force, the strange moaning of a lone guitar casts a pall of misery and gloom — but then the band kick the music into high gear. The drums jump into a gallop, the bass vividly throbs, and the boiling guitars writhe, blaze, and swirl in a display of demonic exultation. To match the mood, the vocals sound like the ravenous howls of a rabid horned beast.

“Satanik Night” is an electrifying way to launch the EP. As the riffing changes, it begins to sound poisonous and cruel as well as brazenly grand — but always with the smell of sulphur in the air.

Witches Curse” is also fast and pounding, but the tremolo’d riffing sounds like an orgy of madness as it soars, and as it descends it also creates an atmosphere of frightening supernatural peril and misery, especially so at the end. It does sound witchy….

And then Gallows Rites bring us to the title track, introducing it with manic piano keys, the slow, morbid tones of a cello, and the voice of a woman invoking the names of princes of Hell. But of course, the song catches fire after that chilling intro segment, providing another dose of primitive, pulse-punching work by the rhythm section, riffing that seems simultaneously fiery and dismal, and teeth-bared vocals that come for the listener’s throat in a mad fury. Here, the band occasionally downshift the pacing, but the music just as scary when they do that.

The wandering ring of the guitar and the gloomy undulation of the bass at the outset of “Unholy Sorcery” provide a moody contrast to the deranged scream that ends the preceding track. With a brazen chord-fanfare, the song starts racing once more — Gallows Rites always seem like they’re pulling at the leash, eager to go on a hellish hunt, which is where they thrive — and the guitars’ rapid vibrations here seem thoroughly exultant.

The vocal sample that begins the final track, which shares the band’s name, provides one final reinforcement of the band’s dedication to devil worship. Women chant their devotion to Satan, while a lone voice pleads with us not to listen to them. She loses.

One last mad conflagration is what ensues, though again Gallows Rites leavens the lunacy with mutating riffs and chord progressions that channel feelings of malignant menace, chilling imperiousness, and hopeless agony.



Helldprod gives us their own enthusiastic words about the EP: “Witchcraft and Necro Desecration sounds like the nightmare hounds crawled six feet under, devouring all roots of belief and hope. Paying tribute to classical evil and dark bands such as Sarcofago, Sodom, Violent Force, and new ones like Nifelheim and Eurynomos, this is a real treat for all those who’ve sworn to keep the metallic flame alive”.

Helldprod will release the record on jewel-case CD and cassette tape formats in association with Sacrifice Records, as well as digitally (and apparel is available too).



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