To stand out from this vast Extreme Metal populace is hard. Real hard. I usually find an endless procession of coequal black-clad outfits of all flavors on my promo list. Some are a bit clownish, others real ritual seekers. As in invoking a daemon, that kind of thing.
All of them try to sell the same bland ol’ soup all over again. Jockeying for position in a genre that somehow lost a lot of its luster over time. And then there are those bands that can just give you this trifle added spice.
NordWitch is one of them. Back in January of 2016, the band already got on the RockmusicRaider radar. And a really promising radar blip it was. Only to disappear again for long months, despite the promise that a metal record should indeed be forthcoming shortly. And by Loki, they took their sweet time delivering the goods.
NordWitch got into its unholy existence back in early 2015, still being of Ukrainian and Hungarian descent at that time. In the meantime, lineage has changed – I am told – and this is all now pure Ukraine. And let’s talk about the line-up for an instance. None of the musicians in this band are newcomers. All of them already pursued their own projects for a few years and this really shows in the final outcome.
And late in the unholy year 2016, their debut album Mørk Profeti – signed jointly to Dark Rituals and Satanath Records – finally hit this very specific fan crowd with a vengeance.
Mørk Profeti starts with a good cover already!
The devil is in the details – as always. If those details are good, the sum of all parts should be good too. Right? And this seems to play out well for NordWitch. It already shows with the album cover that I particularly like. Created by the Ukrainian artist Vyacheslav Smeshko, the art already talks prophecy in more ways than one. And is completely immersed in Norse Mythology with the three Norns present at the roots of Yggdrasil.
Same as the Swiss Stortregn and their particularly juicy 2016 piece of Blackened Death Metal, NordWitch elected to go straight for the target with a short solo intro, and then they let loose. A real breather, if compared to the majority of black and other metallers with their somewhat ubiquitous intros.
That said, Mørk Profeti (dark prophecies) exudes a self-confidence and aggressive stance that is seldom found in debut albums. Of course, there is no self-confidence without musical prowess. And the professionalism shows. Dark, sometimes almost epic riffs, meticulous solos galore, and drum work to match every part one-by-one. All of this sprinkled with some tremolo picking here and there throughout the album.
The instrumentals are backed up by the deep, dark Death Metal growls of Mary Crematorium. Yes, the band is female-fronted. Who would have thought that when listening to the male-sounding growls? By definition, her style is not as exuberant as Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), whilst I still can draw some similarities. But finally, the unclean vocals fully align with the theme and style.
Talking about style!
The band calls their tune Blackened Death Metal. But not so fast. They have a highly melodic content to their Death Metal mix. Not as otherworldly as the style changers of Septicflesh have become, but not as dry-heaving and dusty as Abominator either, as an example.
NordWitch serves the melodic and hard growls just at the right temperature. And make no mistake, no clear voice is present on Mørk Profeti. None, zilch, nada. And this is very good news.
Then, they take some of their influence from the Scandinavian Melodeath crowd. Somehow I just feel some folks from Insomnium stalking around the backstage on some of the tracks. And then suddenly, they go Thrash on me, like they just met with Blynd in Cyprus. Just check out No Regret, one of the best, if not THE best track on the record. So, I would call it a thrashy Melodic Blackened Death Metal disc.
But whatever their style may be, Mørk Profeti has this metal quality to be catchy without going cheese on ye. And this not many bands can muster. Also, the absence of fillers is remarkable. But this better be that way on a short 8 track album.
So, you will get real metal?
As the prophecy already said in January 2016, NordWitch created something real sturdy with Mørk Profeti. Their no-nonsense, heavily metallic, and slightly Scandinavian melodic set of tracks deliver astonishing quality to the fan crowd for a debut. Together with the subdued, yet energetic growls the album delivers an almost irresistible metal lure.
A band to be watched.
Ed’s note: The album managed to get an honorable mention on the 2016 Top 10 Records of RockmusicRaider. Also, this new version of the review will replace the edition of September 2016.
Get dat tune: