Witchhands: Unto Death

There are times you just know. Something mystical about a good cover that seems to communicate something of the band, something about the album you are just about to listen to. Something just let’s you know you are about to hear something great.

https://witchhandsdxr.bandcamp.com/album/unto-death

Unto Death, the Colorado Springs band, Witchhand’s, 4th album is one of those albums. Where does one start to describe a work that is bound to become a classic filed somewhere between Christian Death‘s Catastrophe Ballet and T.S.O.L.’s Change Today? If you are into Death Rock, Goth Rock or Horror Punk, WitchHands has you. From the opening notes of the title track “Unto Death” through this four song journey’s end with “Dust (Dying of the Light),” this EP promises unrelentingly good, song after song. Trust me, I have listened to this possibly 30 times since I received a copy a couple of days before release, and it is now in my regular rotation. The crooning yells of singer Ryan’s strangely distant, yet hauntingly close vocals to Bryan’s thick thunderous drumming; The swirling dance of layers from Aaron’s screaming guitar, Josh’s driving bass and the steady ethereal keyboard work of Lance, this is a classic waiting to be recognized. The production has cleaned up and improved drastically from their previous releases, but still feels raw, reminiscent of proto death rock greats, creating a perfect balance. Unto Death is bound to find a permanent place in the collections of DJs, fans and audiophiles everywhere

Unto Death: From the first time I heard Witchands, I fell in love with the lofi sound. The gutter growl doom rock cheese. I worried the clear driving production level would kill that effect. It does not. It’s more of that energy but with laser beam precision. It’s a finer articulation, a focus to Ryan’s voice. A blend of guitar, drum and lyrics that opens the sanctum and makes you the sacrifice of this ritual. I’m still wandering through a foggy graveyard on a full moon, but the stars are clear enough to read the gravestones.

Neurenberg (Dying of the Light): We’ve brought up the tempo, and Bryan’s thundering tom fills create a languid ritual cascade. The clarity of running up a tight spiral staircase of climbing scales as the punctuating guitars weave a twisting dancer’s cadence. Lance’s vocals punch in with a newfound sense of emergency, capturing with their high energy.

*Mortification: This is our favorite track. Tribal drum rolls open, three unlicensed nuclear accelerators firing plasma at a spectre across a New York ballroom. Ryan’s voice unleashes such an intensity and urgency, his biology exploding through his vocal chords.

Dust (Dying of the Light): Closing track unleashes a thick and driving baseline. Again capturing that break neck speed and rum fills that kilter on the razor edge between doom rock and metal. This is a song of a desolate landscape, zombie truckers in the 1970’s driving through the desert huffed up on memories and formaldehyde.

I find myself yearning for sonic texture paintings. Stoneburner/Carrion/eHpH

Lately I have really been immersed in music that takes me somewhere. A picture of sound that swirls and shakes me. Something where I don’t focus on the words or melody but drown myself in the image from 1000 miles away. Trying to see it all. Here is some of what is taking me there.

Stoneburner – (Beauty Is Terror) I feel like watching this project from Steven Archer is like seeing a blacksmith always sharpening a blade with a whetstone. Each album just keeps getting cleaner and sharper. You really can see the sound itself gain more technique and mastery with every release. It builds on itself and takes new shapes. In particular the vocals on this album are both more of an instrument but also crisper and more distinct.

Beauty Is Terror – Title track slams hard out the gate. I’m hit first by the construction. The efficiency of every sound there. Nothing overpowers or takes away. Keep yourself from fucking up. The cymbal crash sounds seem to strike at just the right moment to feel like the sound is cooking but the tempo is in reality a steady medium groove. This song feels like the early moments of an origin story. Someone just coming into their power in defiance.

Are You There The Way I’m Here – This his me like a concrete brick sledge hammer. It’s so different from everything Stoneburner. It’s smooth, sleek, sexy, it’s almost like Peter Gabriel doing triphop industrial. Again I love the connected story of this record. It isn’t so much the lyrics as the natural progression of each songs sound. Two stars synchronized across the black.

London – I love when songs are places. When you hear a song and are immediately been to a place you have been. Wet old brick walkways in a dark city full of tight alleys. The doubled vocals here, one electric and buzzing. Another chanting and organic to make a glorious effect. This song is a reflection, both the puddles on the street and the way it leaves you thinking about actions.

I know I often gush about Steven’s work, but I really believe this is the best music I have ever heard him produce to date. Take my recommendation and buy it. You won’t be sorry.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

Carrion – (Testament Ov The Exiled) If Stoneburner was a hero’s journey rising then Testament ov The Exiled is the hidden horror lurking in that alley. It drones and stalks, but with the smoothness of a predator you never see. Whispering to you. Just the quick glimpses of Flashing yellow eyes in slashing distortion. It’s the atmosphere that builds the horror here. Like an old Vincent Price movie that never needed to show you the monster to scare you. This is music to test your bravery against. Light a single candle. step outside the comfort of your door, and test the strength of your courage.

https://officialcarrion.bandcamp.com/

eHpH – (Infrared) – This is a turbulent time, you can taste it in the air. Division and fear are everywhere in the soul of America. This album takes that tension and spins it into thread. Weaving a tapestry. Heavy use of samples and thick pad sounds. Who says you can’t dance and think at the same time. This is a sound hungry for revolution. Fernando’s vocals come from behind a distorted shadow but ring clear. The fighters of freedom wear masks and carry an axe. I love challenge and FLA dance beats.

https://ehph.bandcamp.com/album/infrared

Sounds and Shadows Podcast #7 Featuring Witchhands

Our 7th podcast featuring Colorado Death Rock band Witchhands. I have previously reviewed both of their albums and it was wonderful to discuss the Colorado scene, coming back from comas, and the future of death rock. This was our longest discussion yet, but I just love these guys so the time past quickly.

Band: Witchhands

Members: Vocals: Ryan Flint
Guitar: Aaron ‘Batboy’ Hernandez
Bass: Jodajen
Percussion: Sleezy B
Keys: Lance Broodington

Sounds and Shadows Podcast #7

https://witchhandsdxr.bandcamp.com/album/lappel-du-vide

https://flightapproved.bandcamp.com/album/bright-channel

https://ehph.bandcamp.com/album/ehph

https://marriedadeadman.bandcamp.com/