Released: 2014, Elvester Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Sussex-based solo effort WITCHCLAN is Britain’s oldest active black metal band, or so frontman Matt Bass claims. Many would dispute these claims, especially since even a few years after their formation (which didn’t include the current only member) all the band had managed to squeeze out was a laughable bedroom demo and a shoddy one track promo. However, skip ahead to the 2011 and finally the debut album, from a totally renewed and realigned Witchlan emerged. Despite its questionable production, this received fairly positive reviews from the underground and on the UK front, after its release from UK tape-based label Darkness Sade Records.
This new offering then, entitled The Dark Binding, should be set to impress. Does it however? Certainly not. It is hard to think where to begin when describing what an exhaustively bad catastrophe of a sophomore record this is. I simply don’t know what Matt Bass was thinking. Firstly, the production, which aims to hark back to the early 90s demo days, is a diabolically sloppy. Reverb-soaked, badly engineered guitars certainly bring back some nostalgia, but since when did the classic UK early BM originators utilise the worse mixed, futuristic and inhuman sounding drum programming tools known to man? Matt Bass openly uses EZ drummer software, as do many other metal bands to good effect, so why such an out of place sound has been chosen here is totally beyond me.
Vocally, Matt’s hateful rasps are dead and gone. Now, they have been replaced by weak, child-like gargles of lyrics about the Necronomicon- (prizes for originality please!) Sounding disconnected from the instruments in the mix, this only adds to the awfully amateurish, passionless vibe that is given off by this record, and reinforced by the dull, half-arsed guitar ostinatos.
It’s certainly going to be a crushing disappointment for everyone who loved and wore-out 2011’s Misanthropism, but it’s going to be even worse for those who pre-ordered the “high-priest” package, containing some Halloween-styled tupaware chalice and more assorted knick-knacs. All ten tracks are poor enough to disgrace the UKBM scene, with their thrown-together and uncaring sounds. The repetition of monotonous riffs isn’t working, and if Witchlan wish to survive until their next records, things ought to change in-terms of the entire approach.