Colombia’s Witchtrap are back, twenty eight years in to a career that’s seen few, if any surprises – just solid, underground-friendly blackthrash.
They wear that ‘no surprises’ tag like a badge of honour, of course, and there’s nothing wrong with that. When you put a Witchtrap album on you know exactly what’s coming, and new album Evil Strikes Again, their fifth full-lengther, is no different. Driven by the simple yet effective battery of drummer Witchhammer, the band barrel through forty minutes of primal, bespiked proto-thrash with titles like Death To False Metal and Return To Hell, ostensibly unaware that it’s no longer 1984 and heavy metal – even the moon-drenched, stygian brand that Witchtrap purvey, has moved on a bit in the last thirty six years.
Of course, this is entirely and utterly fantastic. Literally no concessions are given to the modern age. Everything sounds brutally organic – Burning Axe Ripper‘s tone couldn’t be replicated or bettered by a thousand plugins, all working twenty four hours a day in fruitless toil trying to come up with a sound that’s as purely metal as his. Likewise Witchhammer’s drumming, which is effortlessly human and all the better for it.
Things kick off as you’d expect on Fatal Litanies – a nice mashup of Slayer and Sabbath intro pieces, with bassist Enforcer punctuating the evil with little four string flourishes, and then we’re off, thrashing like maniacs on the frantic Midnight Rites. It sounds like ragged, seat-of-the-pants stuff, but of course these blokes are old hands now and it’s a testament to their professionalism and enthusiasm that they still portray real urgency and danger in tracks like this. By way of contrast, the afore-mentioned Death To False Metal is almost stately, dare I say ‘mainstream’ in composition and execution. That Witchtrap handle both sides with such rabid aplomb shows that really they have progressed over the course of their now three decade long career. Listen to this album’s superb title track for further proof.
As ever, it’s hard to see this converting many new fans not already committed to this kinda stuff. But if blackthrash is where you’re at, musically, then this will find a very welcome home in your collection, I’m sure. Horns up!
Evil Strikes Again releases on October 30th.