Hand of the Horsewitch

Hand of the Horsewitch EP

Written by: AB on 10/05/2010 01:43:28

So, in a way of apology of being absent from Rockfreaks.net, I thought I should give you guys a treat. This is a very little known EP from a very little known band I accidentally stumbled upon a couple months back. Don't let the stupid name deter you, because this is some quality stuff! It is a self released EP, and it is sold out at the moment, but I find it so good, that it would have ended up in my Top 10 of 2009 if I had known about it back then - so naturally it deserves a review!

Hand of the Horsewitch plays a branch of highly obscure (always a quality stamp for the metal kvltists/geeks!), occult branch of extreme metal. Death metal at its core, Hand of the Horsewitch branches out into doom and black territory. Nothing new here, I hear you say, but I must admit I haven't found a band that stirs their heavy metal brew together exactly like this before.

Hand of the Horsewitch is a band, that, to my ears, is to be found within easy recognizable fields - death, black and doom - but break down both the structures, conventions and aesthetics of the genres, and reassemble them to their own unique needs. In that sense they remind me of other bands that exist within very specific genres, but twist them into something totally new to fit their own sound - like underground heroes Portal or Stargazer (both of them black/death metal) or more widely known bands such as Gorguts or Ulcerate (technical death and brutal death respectively).

For Hand of the Horsewitch, that results in a mid tempo, labyrinthine slap of extreme metal, spiced up with the occasional blasting bits and some utterly gut wrenching growls. That's a good thing, mind you, the gut wrenching part. What the band does so incredibly well on the 4 songs on the EP, is to drag you into the world of the Horsewitch. The band is almost droning a lot of the time, with minuscule changes in riffing and tempo pacing the song forward in a way that shits all over conventional song structures. The effect of the drawn out, almost post-metallic or sludgy riff structures draws lines to the newest Ulcerate album or the whole droning post-rock slash black metal movement that bands like Wolves in the Throne Room or Altar of Plagues are part of, as you are dragged into the trancey-stream-of-conscious-like world of the band, in which the occult, magick and the power of nature rule supreme. This is a fucking labyrinth beneath the forest floor, composed of wall-of-sounds and towers of silence, built of dreams and wormwood! Yep, that's how I feel about this one.

On top of the whole trance thing, the music can speak for itself. If you don't feel like you're dragged to a tour in the labyrinth, you can at least appreciate the skill of the drummer, who showcases the beauty of simplicity - though this isn't really a case of 'simple' but rather 'less is more' - the blasts are used very sparingly and to great effect - or maybe just take a look at the guitars. It is very interesting to see how small changes in tempo can change the entire mood of the song, and how, even though the riffs get constantly twisted just a tiny bit, they always builds on top of what was before and keep the sound in check so it isn't all over the place. Or the bass! Shit man, it's so refreshing to encounter a (death metal) band with such a crushing bass tone - there's the whole wall-o'-sound I was talking about before. I already mentioned the vocals, but let me just repeat, and underline how completely fucking unrelentless they are!

So, I hope you'll do yourself a favor and pick this one up when it becomes available again. It is really weird how this has managed to sneak below the nose of the collective metal world out there, because it seems that literally no one has ever heard of these guys before (well, obviously somebody has since their EP is sold out, but I gather they have a small local following - in fucking Kamloops, Canada - what about metal heads world wide?!). Anyways, I've been totally enchanted by Hand of the Horsewitch, indeed, this is probably the release I've listened to the most the last couple months (even surpassing the newest Immolation masterpiece!). So should you.


Download: Sisterhood of the Worm, Kingdom of the Forest Floor and Everything Beneath, Of Curses, Born in the Mouth of a Beast
For the fans of: Portal, Stargazer, Ulcerate
Listen: MySpace

Release date 2009
Self released

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