WITCH VOMIT – Abhorrent Rapture (2021)REVIEW

Despite what you may think, spirits do return, you know, some of them with evil intent, and that could be very dangerous, especially to the innocent. I know many people who were able to go back into the past, and some who were able to come back into the present, but you would never believe such things. You can’t stand the thought of there existing beings so powerful, and strong, as to break through… the barriers of time and space, and to take a malignant pleasure in causing suffering to the weak and innocent, thereby fulfilling some mysterious project of vengeance.Beyond the Door (1974)

A surprise release typically lands on me like a stray zealot’s forceful offer of a prayer on the light rail, there is little time to budget for what the offeror wants in return and what is on offer is usually ineffective or, overconfident. The unexpected reveal of ‘Abhorrent Rapture‘, the latest EP release from Portland, Oregon death metal quartet Witch Vomit pulls this “Hey, its out.” deal off for the sake of strong enough momentum as a known quantity, having decided exactly who they are in terms of timbre and visual language around 2017 and delivering the full-sized goods on ‘Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave‘ back in 2019, an album that has held up leagues better than expected. Are these four songs run-off from those sessions? Probably, but that’d be a good thing in every case as we re-up on their lunging-low and horror themed vault of the gap between classic United States death metal and Scandinavian ideals and find that much of what we’d wanted more of on the previous record is all here in massive rotting piles.

The biggest criticism I could’ve thrown at the previous Witch Vomit album was its insistence upon a level-headed mid-paced attack throughout, not entirely feeling the extremes of death/doom and brutality that I’d gotten a healthy swig of within their past HM-2 grinding releases. They’d appeared to have traded out a lot of their more typical traits for the sake of honing in on what made Witch Vomit their own gig and even if it wasn’t massively dynamic from my point of view it was a “defining” moment for the group in terms of finally branding something closer to a signature form. They were, and are still, a charmingly ‘old school’ hybrid beast who maintain a sort of mid-90’s death metal appeal in terms of rhythm guitar movements that reek of texture and melodicism in subtle doses, stinking of a big clobbering kill machine but still managing more than obtuse brutal death drain-circling as the riffs roll out. I still hear their sound as a sort of “twenty years later” take on early Funebrarum, or jump back another decade to Rottrevore to some degree; This is especially true for these four songs which lean into heavier doomed pieces, feature deeper gunned vocals, and still play with the launch n’ lunge dynamics of early Incantation. If you recognized their aesthetic before you remembered what they sound like, join the club, and I think that is the big challenge for LP number three when it hits: Give me a reason to go apeshit beyond this solid-as-fuck iteration.

When we cut the bigger picture of established sonic signature and stylistic expectations out of mind for a moment we’ve got four of the best songs Witch Vomit have produced to date, all of which fight with one another for top cut as it plays. “Funeral Purgation” is probably one of the best Witch Vomit songs for my own taste as I think a sinister doomed atmosphere, or, creeping momentum in general comes to them more naturally than a lot of nearby death/doom metal projects. I’m impressed otherwise but any of the other three pieces here would’ve been in equal company in the middle of ‘Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave’, with the exception of the sort of yank back to 2017 within the title track which touches upon a schism of Swedish and Finnish death metal at its apex. Subtle melody, grim atmosphere, a bit more brutal mix. I don’t know if y’all need a track-by-track for that but the gist of it is that you’re getting more of the Witch Vomit you realized existed (and ruled) a few years ago and they’re even nastier in hindsight. In my book, that is a great thing and the package itself (in terms of the vinyl LP) is a beautiful thing with another impressive use of contrasting color and writhing zombie hordes via Matt Stikker‘s artwork. Will it push folks over the edge if the previous album didn’t? Doubt it, but existing fandom (myself included) should be more than keen on ‘Abhorrent Rapture’. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (82/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Abhorrent Rapture
LABEL(S):20 Buck Spin
RELEASE DATE:June 18th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Death Metal

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