A lesson that’s often overlooked in extreme metal is the importance of melody. You can blast away at 666 BPM, and your riffs can be as crude and violent as an army of rampaging demons, but without even a hint of melody odds are that it won’t half the desired impact. There are exceptions, of course, but these are few and far between. This lesson is one that Witchgöat have well learned, with their Umbra Regit demo demonstrating a band who appreciate the importance of melody in creating something vicious. Sitting somewhere between 90’s Dissection and 80’s German thrash, this is old-school through and through, and highly effective.
The real test of music that’s so inherently backward-looking isn’t in whether it brings anything new to the table, but how exciting it makes the music sound; after all, if you’ve spent years and years listening to Under the Sign of Evil and Pleasure to Kill and Storm of the Light’s Bane, odds are that you’ve also heard dozens of bands aping those records and not being anywhere near as good. In this sense, Umbra Regit absolutely succeeds. It’s incredibly vicious, full of razor-sharp leads and hooks that will get under your skin; and the sense of energy it puts across is as good as impossible to argue against. Straddling black-thrash, proto-black metal, and pure 80’s thrash, Umbra Regit is like an evil, unholy conglomeration of all that is good about 80’s extreme metal.
The first two tracks are where the band demonstrate that they understand this kind of metal, and can write songs that can compete with the best of them. Opener ‘Emanations From the Underworld’, at almost five minutes, has plenty of time to build and grow, with the song subtly developing as it progresses, demonstrating that there’s more to Witchgöat than simply playing loud and fast. This is emphasised by ‘Proliferation of the Dark Souls’, which comes across as the point at which Dissection and Aura Noir meet – evil, vicious, and full of dark melodies. Real effort and dedication has gone in to crafting these songs, and it shows.
Likewise, that the demo closes on an acoustic track – the evocative ‘Towards the Gulgata’ – bodes very well for the future of Witchgöat. Moments such as this are a large part of what made Storm of the Light’s Bane such an effective record, and it closes the demo in haunting style. It shows that the band understand the importance of different elements and how they play in to the construction of the whole; of contrast being provided by lighter moments, that can still maintain the same kind of blasphemous aura, and it makes me very excited to see what Witchgöat do next.
Umbra Regit is due for release on 31 July 2018, available digitally via Bandcamp. A cassette version has already sold out of pre-order copies.