The tropical climes of Central America are perhaps not your first thought when thinking of quality extreme metal. That’s all about to change because El Salvador has recently spawned Witchgöat, finest purveyors of a brutal blackened thrash hybrid. Scratch the surface of said country and you’ll find a fertile scene that’s birthed bands like Odium Enthronement, Evil Nerfal and Darlament Norvadian. When you consider that El Salvador is currently the world’s murder capital it’s not surprising the youth have turned to extreme music and one of the fruits of such adversity is this nine track stomper Egregors of the Black Faith.
The short intro ‘Litanies of the Adversary’ sounds like a microphone dipped into the depths of hades recording the tortured and the torturers before the album begins proper with the thunderclap that is ‘Proliferation of the Dark Souls’. Clearly drawing influence from the Scandinavian second wave of black metal blast beats and atmospheric solos prevail but it’s married to the primitive death/thrash of Sarcófago’s I.N.R.I. and Sepultura’s Schizophrenia. ‘Proliferation…’ actually appeared on the bands skull crushing 2018 demo Umbra Regit but now benefiting from a fuller production it becomes a more brutal beast.. More polished (but not to a sheen) things have been kept deliberately lo-fi in line with their influences. The following salvo ‘Black Vomit of Souls’ certainly lives up to its name. Witchgöat aren’t here to take prisoners as they flit effortlessly between black, thrash, death and even trad metal. The break at 50 seconds is the most delicious thing I’ve heard all year while the intricate guitar solo twists and turns like a lost soul trawling through Dante’s Inferno.
Powered by a humongous riff ‘Emanations From the Underworld’ also appeared on the aforementioned demo and it’s hard to believe this line-up has only been together only 18 months because they evidence a real chemistry and tackle the complex arrangements with deadly assurance. Founder and guitarist P. Scyther successfully fuses the essence of old school thrash to the dirge of black metal while vocalist M. Miasma overlays the maelstrom with some fine demoniac, guttural vocals. Raw, but with a thoughtful, even-handed production this album builds from a solid rhythm section with subtle nuances hid in the mix that’ll reveal themselves on repeated listening.
Hardly pausing for breath ‘Putrefaction of Souls’ crushes all in its path like a runaway Sherman tank while ‘Into the Jaws of Death’ thrashes like Slayer on amphetamine. As a song it doesn’t hang around; it hits like a sucker punch from Anthony Joshua and continues to pummel for five minutes. However Witchgöat are not all about pure bludgeon ‘Eyes of the Profane’ in particular contains some neat time changes which keeps things interesting and, in a similar fashion to Immortal at their most expressive, captures the turbulence of nature by evoking fjords and vast leaden skies. And of course these interludes act like a foil and make the heavier passages even more weightier.
‘Beyond the Soil of the Dead’ completes the album in truly epic style and pulls the bands influences together into a cohesive whole. Imagine Dave Lombardo, Cliff Burton, Trey Azagthoth and Barney Greenway having a jam and you have something approaching ‘Beyond the Soil…’. Ending abruptly Witchgöat seem to disappear into the ether leaving the listener salivating for more. As debut albums go Egregors of the Black Faith arrives almost perfectly formed and it’s the perfect base from which to build a career. World domination beckons.
Reviewed by Peter Dennis
Egregors of the Black Faith is released through Morbid Skull Records/Hell Productions on 13 February 2019
- Litanies of the Adversary
- Proliferation of the Dark Souls
- Black Vomit of Souls
- Emanations From the Underworld
- Putrefaction of Souls
- Into the Jaws of Death
- Eyes of the Profane
- Umbra Regit
- Beyond the Soil of the Dead