Monday, 22 October 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor


Genre - Doom Death/Black Metal

1. Into the Arms of Yama
2. The Grand Tormentor
3. Meditation for Sacrifice
4. Wasteland of Thataka
5. Exile
6. Beyond Darkness and Death
7. The Tomb
8. Tandava
9. Cast into Fire
10. Funeral Lotus 

Beheaded Ouroboroswas one of my top rated releases of 2010, one of the most downright unrelentingly putrid and heavy albums to crawl out of the gutter that year with its insane gutturals and earth cracking guitar riffs. Certainly if esoteric Death Metal that takes its leads from the Helmkamp inspired barbarity of ANGELCORPSE and ORDER FROM CHAOS along with INCANTATION's monolithic death processions then you've come to the right place. Fresh off making the transition from Ireland's Invictus to the high-flying Osmose, The Grand Tormentor” is the sophomore effort from this act and big things were expected. So how much has this unholy monstrosity progressed since their awe inspiring debut? Well, if it was possible to better such a masterpiece then somehow they have managed to do it with “The Grand Tormentor”, and in the process managed to make it somehow even fucking heavier than before. The result is a band who now along with countrymen DIOCLETIAN are now essentially the flag bearers for extreme metal in New Zealand.

'Into the Arms of Yama' kicks off proceedings, a ten minute filth encrusted opus that plunges you straight into the inferno with its initial INCANTATION-esque Death/Doom dirge with the impression that this is “The Grand Tormentor” slowly dragging its lumbering bulk up and out of the pit awakening for its tyranny on the world above. This eventually succumbs to a menacing drumbeat, down tuned guitars soaked in distortion and Void's inhuman gutturals hovering just beneath the music like unearthly bubbles of evil, which I suppose is basically the foundation for the whole album. Once you've heard this you'll understand what I mean about this being incredibly heavy, I mean there's more crushing low end present on “The Grand Tormentor” than the collective mass of your average American 'Weight Watchers' class. The tempo of the album varies frequently enough so things never get stagnant, faster passages with some rather headbangable rhythms intertwined with those previously mentioned slow and foreboding ones. Such an examples of faster moments would be the likes of the title track which hits you with an intensity which could cleave skulls or 'Wasteland of Thataka' of which the only way to describe is as pure unholy barbarism. The production here is such that as fucked up, chaotic and asphyxiating as it is, it still lends extremely well to each individual aspect of the music. All the instruments have enough clarity to flourish in their own given way, and when you can include two songs over nine minutes on album and still retain the listeners attention then you're onto a winner.

The music hits you like a wave of thick black tar with a noxious putrescence; the riffs bore through with a grinding ferocity ranging from doomy dirges to echoes of Black Metal with frantic tremolo picking and the drums ominous like an encroaching thunder while the vocals indecipherable and sickening, lurk beneath. Hell there's even time now and again for a few esoteric solos to raise their head. It almost sounds as if this is one of Satan's apocalyptic sermons that has been spewed straight up through a vent from the underworld and presented itself in all its fetid, sulphuric glory as what we now know as “The Grand Tormentor”. It's pretty much the embodiment of the 'anti-mainstream' within Death Metal, no technical nonsense and no melody whatsoever, just a sewage pit of ritualistic Doom Death Metal insanity. Fans of DIOCLETION, HERESIARCH and WRATHPRAYER probably already need no introduction to these guys, but this should definitely appeal to those who are fans so-called 'War Metal' and of bands such as INCANTATION, WINTER and even ASPHYX. Just be warned, gas masks out lads, you'll certainly fucking need them


Sounds like - Wrathprayer, Incantation, Diocletian

Originally written for The Metal Observer 

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