After a short atmospheric intro, the first real song, “Worms of Hypocrisy”, starts in a rather bewildering way, with a riff that is almost rock and you wouldn’t expect it at all on a “black” track. Before you have the time to consciously ask yourself “OK, folks, what’s going on here?”, though, the peculiar drilling drums and guttural vocals jump in, along with some keyboard counterpoint whose effect is overall too unquestionable and thoroughly wanted and a guitar line reminiscent of 80s heavy metal, very clear and melodic, all of which, altogether, delivers a somewhat unusual but certainly infectious track.
“Treading on Angels” deals much more with traditional, consistent black metal à la Darkthrone; “Dawn of the Serpent Kings” features another rather odd and distorted intro, before diving your head down into a straightforward piece with many neat changes of pace and an emblematic low-fi aura.
From the searing “Beyond the Seventh Gate” onwards, we may also notice a shift in the topics of the songs, from Bass’s personal hopeless and apocalyptic take on religion to H.P. Lovecraft-inspired lyrics. The genius from Providence has clearly had a huge influence on Matt Bass as references to Cthulhu and the Old Ones are multiple, and “Crossing of the Spheres” is a real compendium of invocations to the main Lovecraftian creatures.
The ripping Bay Area-style riff that introduces “A New Dawn” furtherly clarifies that Witchcult’s favourite trick and modus operandi on this album is to instill a proper black metal song structure and characters on an unexpected, out-of-the-blue melodic magma, that clearly owes much to the 80s in every musical declination. “Pathways to Immortality” is a darker track that once again features plentiful keyboards, dimly redolent of early Cradle of Filth.
The already mentioned “Crossing of the Spheres” is a powerful, evocative and extremely murky track rich in tempo shifts, with Bass’s deep growl going maniac and unsettling and an interesting work on the keyboards, perfect set for the theme examined.
“Neverending Funeral” insists on this darkened direction, abruptly slowing down the pace, diving into the most abyssal depths of doom tempos, and unleashing its fury in the final part. There is still space for an eerie outro with the same ghostly female vocals heard on the intro (Bass’s wife Carmel, just for the info).
Ultimately, we have a startling but also surprising album, honest and direct in spirit and intentions, that plays with genres and subgenres without giving much thought of it. The result is indeed captivating, although a slight lack of cohesion between the tracks and within each song can be perceived occasionally.
Release date: October 31, 2014 through Elvester Records on CD limited to 1000 copies, and on vinyl: 100 (180gm) Blood Red Vinyl, 500 (180gm) Black Vinyl
1. Descend into Darkness (Intro)
2. Worms of Hypocrisy
3. Treading on Angels
4. Dawn of the Serpent Kings
5. Beyond the Seventh Gate
6. A New Dawn
7. Pathways to Immortality
8. Crossing of the Spheres
9. Neverending Funeral
10. Descend into Madness (Outro)
Matt Bass – all instruments, vocals, lyrics