Earlier this year, Shadow Kingdom Records brought us an incredible speed metal treat by Seax known as Fallout Rituals. Now, this same label is bringing what I like to call their blackened counterpart, Bewitcher. Their newest endeavor Under The Witching Cross is as menacing as the title suggests, with spooky and Satanic auras painting images of ghouls in graveyards onto the canvas of the mind.
Right off the bat, the most immediate thing that stood out was the band’s ability to pull off clean, precision guitar playing while topping it with shrieking vocals. Switching those roles wouldn’t make for anything abnormal, but the title track’s capitalization on this is stellar. A slower, clean and melodic outro with thunderous bass introduced by lighting fast rhythms throughout can be found almost anywhere on the disc. Record starter “Savage Lands Of Satan” dials in the darker tempos and prepares you for an evil that’s still welcoming.
Certainly, you can also expect to find numbers that shake up the mood a bit such as “Heathen Woman.” This one breaks the edge off, along with its quicker counterpart “Too Fast For The Flames.” Bewitcher achieves it by holding onto the witchery fueled themes and punchy riffs but dropping some of the threatening atmosphere. Unfortunately, there’s very little in the way of variance no matter which approach the band takes.
Under The Witching Cross can easily be summed up as a record that is packed to the brim with strong riffs and good songs, but a lot of it seems interchangeable. Due to its shorter length, not too much damage is taken; but there’s room for growth without a doubt. I appreciate the shredding and tactical fret-skills, but just a pinch more soul would do wonders. Even the final song “Frost Moon Ritual” is a great start to this. Regardless, if you crave a blackened speed ride, this surely won’t let you down.