Black Bow Records seem to be making all the right moves this year with some pretty hefty releases and signing promising new talent unto their roster. With a growing following on social media platforms, it’s no surprise Kent trio Witchapter become the next to join this impressive clientele of foreboding and powerful heavy metal army. Howling out the sludgiest kind of doom metal in a pummeling funereal fashion, if their debut EP Spellcaster is anything to go by then Britain will soon be left glacially crawling for the exit: the music to be found here is heavy, grotesque, and thoroughly crushing.
Spanning just over twenty minutes, the band – consisting of Chris Grenfell (vocals/guitar), Bobby Smith (bass) and Louie Spencer (drums) – do more to drag the listener down into the earthy depths below their feet than many do in twice that time. From the get go, Spellcaster pounds those in the bands presence into submission and barely allows the victim time to gasp for air. Opener ‘Veiled Aggressor’ charges into record with a super primitive sound with a real Iron Monkey vibe and ravages the flesh right off the skin like a dog gone rabid; ‘Through the Smoke and Sulphur’ on the other hand is a steamroller through a thick cloud of, well, smoke and sulphur – humming its way through half of the six minutes runtime, a sudden burst of ghastly energy catches the uninitiated off-guard before imploding in an ultra-heavy sonic void of doom and this part is super impressive! But perhaps it is the epic and cinematic cemetery monster of ‘Everywhere I Look I See My Grave’ that will leave the more lasting impression on listener: utilising the same motif for ten minutes takes serious balls but Witchapter manage to pull this off to their advantage. It is as grim and as terrifying as the title suggests, matching the ghoulish horror of top quality funeral doom; a truly tormented necrosis-inducing piece.
Though variety does not seem to be Witchapter’s strongpoint (they seem to latch on to a riff and drag it out as gruesomely as possible) they at least maintain consistency with what menacing power dwells within them. The sounds rupturing from this short introduction are no doubt going to leave any audience in tatters within a live setting as emphasised in the heaviest of finishes on the final track. The question as to whether a human can withstand a full-length from these guys may seem to carry an easy answer (all things considered) but when something this monstrous and ear-splitting comes around, heads are definitely going to turn. A pretty solid debut offering from a band we should all keep our ears painfully pinned to with great anticipation.
1. Veiled Aggressor
2. Through Smoke and Sulphur
3. Everywhere I Look I See My Grave