Tag Archives: witch hunter records

Review: Iced Out’s Man’s Ruin

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Durham sludgecore nihilists Iced Out have returned for another short burst of down-tuned filth with the release of their third EP, Man’s Ruin. The band’s previous EP Jukai began to show elements of a slower, lurching song style that has more in common with sludge metal than hardcore and Iced Out have made a much bigger step into the world of sludge for this EP.

Slow tempos really suit Iced Out’s brand of punishment. Opening track For the Covern features a neck-snapping riff that is punctuated by some of the most powerful drumming the band have ever produced. By making a more conceited effort to explore the more the darker and moodier side of their music, Iced Out have finally created a sound they can claim as their own.

With this new found confidence, Iced Out have also created the best song of their career so far. The title track of Man’s Ruin has the quintessential Iced Out riff; a nasty, bass-heavy stomper that threatens to leap out of the stereo and drag you into the nearest pit. However, the Entombed-like tone smothers the song in the sort of hardcore growl that the band have dealt with prior. It’s the perfect amalgamation of everything Iced Out have achieved until now.

Rounding things off is another raging, doomy beast of a song with the name of Space Mountain. Iced Out don’t mess about here and pack their special blend of low-end grot into an exhilarating two minutes. Even though the running time gives an inclination to the hardcore Iced Out of old, the weight of the riff takes centre-stage and reminds you that this is sludge metal and it’s some of the best sludge metal you’ll hear this year.

Iced Out have finally found their comfort zone. Man’s Ruin is an enormous, towering beast of an EP that sees the band embrace slower tempos and tunings so low you might soil yourself. Now it’s time for Iced Out to take their sludgecore leanings and finally deliver the sort of devastating album that Man’s Ruin is threatening to. Good luck, boys; we’re looking forward to it.

9/10

Iced Out’s Man’s Ruin is out now and available to buy on limited edition CD from Witch Hunter Records.


Year End: The Top 10 Best EPs of 2014

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10) Yards – EP2

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Yards completed their double EP release with the thrashy, hardcore punk lunacy of EP2. The record is a wonderfully visceral streak of aggression that puts together an album’s worth of riffs and rams them all into four blistering hardcore anthems. This is a great hardcore release that is only improved by playing it with its sister record.

9) Pure Graft – Casual Labour

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Newcastle’s Pure Graft make an elaborate noise that is extremely difficult to pigeon-hole. The band play melodic punk rock but their compositions are beautifully progressive. If you think Alkaline Trio by way of At the Drive-In then you’ll get a good idea as to how wonderfully bizarre this all is. Casual Labour is loaded with sing-a-long melodies and angular guitar riffs which make this release a wonderful breath of fresh air.

8) Jackals – Violence Is…

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Jackals are not the sort of band who mess around with things like nuance. The band’s latest EP Violence Is… is a hardcore punk EP that has no ulterior motive other than to bombard the listener with screaming, thunderous riffs and drumming that waits for no man. This is a frantic and unashamedly loud release from one of the purest hardcore punk bands this country has to offer.

7) Iced Out – Jukai

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What we said:

“Once again Iced Out manage to bottle pure fury and put it on record. The shift in atmosphere that is brought about by the slower-paced songs suits the oppressive nature of the band’s music perfectly and creates some absolutely crushing anthems of despair. Iced Out have proven that there’s more to this band than straight-forward hardcore and ‘Jukai’ marks a huge evolution for them. If you get a chance to see the band perform this material in a live environment then make sure to wear a neck brace because with riffs this big you might do yourself some serious damage.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

6) Employed to Serve – Change Nothing, Regret Everything

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What we said:

“Employed to Serve are on top of their game and continue to be one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now. Their sound continues to evolve into a much larger, more technical beast and the band know how to maximise on huge riffs and interesting song structures to keep their audience engaged whilst smashing their faces through their nearest wall. This is an intense and fairly progressive record that deserves a place in your record collection.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

5) Cholera – Plagiarised Hope

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What we said:

“So Cholera aren’t particularly original but so what? ‘Plagiarised Hope’ is an absolutely stunning 7” that takes all the best parts of modern hardcore and delivers an immensely satisfying slab of chaos. If you have any interest in the genre then Cholera make an excellent starting point and ‘Plagiarised Hope’ showcases a hugely accomplished sound that highlights the best parts of the scene. Cholera have never sounded so strong.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

4) Actions & Consequence – Moving On

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Moving On by Actions & Consequence had a bizarre effect on me. Growing up in the nineties lead to a punk rock discovery that only occurred late into the decade and Actions & Consequence brought back memories of all those initial discoveries with full force. If you ever cared about the early careers of bands like The Offspring, Bad Religion and AFI then Actions & Consequence might just become your new favourite band. They’ve certainly become one of mine.

3) Megalodoom – Tectonic Oblivion

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What we said:

“Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion is a thunderous beast of an EP that manages to escape the potential boredom that their lack of vocals could have caused. The band have put together a hugely satisfying selection of riffs and melodies that tie together beautifully and create a behemoth of an EP that doom fans should be clawing over themselves to own.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

2) Cactus&Cardigan – Highland Bastards

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What we said:

“Cactus&Cardigan have put together an alternative rock/metal release that is never short on riffs. The songs are all enormous, groove-laden affairs that deserve to be heard outside of the band’s native Scotland. Heavy music needs bands like Cactus&Cardigan to remind us that heavy music doesn’t need to be overly technical to provide a satisfying impact and Highland Bastards is one of the best examples of this mantra we can think of.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

1) Irk – Bread and Honey

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What we said:

“The only real negative I can throw at this EP is it’s all over in 10 minutes and quite frankly I need more. Irk have whet my appetite for more rollicking, mathcore lunacy and that’s a pretty good indication as to how good Bread and Honey is. You’d be a fool not to give Irk at least 10 minutes of your time. It might be the best 10 minutes you’ve had with heavy music this year.”

Read the full review by clicking here.


Year End: The Top 5 Best Splits of 2014

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5) Teef/Minors

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A late release from Headless Guru Records, this split does not mess about. UK punk-thrashers TEEF have joined forces with American dark hardcore act Minors to deliver a 3 minute burst of pure aggression. TEEF are the sort of band that will have old school punks pogo-ing until their knees shatter and Minors conjure up memories of bands like Lavotchkin and End Reign which is nothing but a good thing. It might be short but it’s perfectly formed.

4) War Wolf/Crossburner

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What we said:

“War Wolf and Crossburner have delivered an EP that will satisfy hardcore fans the world over. This is a seriously strong collection of tunes that deserve your attention despite some small grievances with over-familiarity in War Wolf’s case and not enough time being spent driving home the strong melodies in Crossburner’s arsenal. If you’re a fan of the genre you’re still in for an absolute treat.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

3) Rolo Tomassi/Stockades

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What we said:

“Rolo Tomassi might be losing their more unpredictable and progressive elements, but songs like Adrasteia prove the band are still an engaging mathcore band even when they’re playing things a little more straight forward.

Stockades offer up a lovely little progressive screamo anthem and it beautifully flows through its various riffs and melodies with ease. It’s still early days for these boys but it would appear they’ve already nailed and extremely accomplished sound that I’ll be paying some serious attention to from here on.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

2) Oblivionized and Razoreater – This is S.O.A.N.

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What we said:

“Oblivionized and Razoreater are champions of the UK underground music scene and this recording showcases exactly what’s so great about going to a dirty club show and getting your mosh on. This release is also accompanied by a live video recording of both band’s sets which is essential viewing if you’ve ever cared about the long lost art of the concert film.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

1) Pariso/Svalbard

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What we said:

“Regardless of the fact that the amalgamation comes off more as Pariso instead of Pariso and Svalbard, this collaborative album is an incredibly special release from two very unique bands. Pariso’s heavier yet more metal-laden beginning leads into a more positive and melodic second half courtesy of Svalbard that actually feels like the album takes you on a journey through the dark and into the light. This split actually tries to break down the boundaries of the split record concept by showcasing two bands that are very much on the same page regardless of their differences in sound. This could have been a Loutallica but thankfully it’s a wholesome and focussed release that any fan of heavy music should be listening to.”

Read the full review by clicking here.


Review: Oblivionized and Razoreater’s This is S.O.A.N.

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A split UK underground metal release? Recorded live!? You better believe it. Oblivionized and Razoreater have teamed up for a double dose of chaos that was recorded during a gig at Stuck on a Name Studios in Nottingham. The advantages of recording this in an actual studio means that even though this has the energy and rawness that comes with a live recording, it’s mixed and mastered to a professional level meaning this is one of the best sounding underground live recordings released for quite some time.

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Things kick off with Oblivionized who are one of the most difficult bands to categorise. The band play a mixture of mathcore, grindcore and death metal that is full of technicality and balanced with some absolutely crushing riffs from guitarist Sammy Urwin.

The band are on top form in this recording. The frantic and utterly mental drum work from Will Merlin is on full display and despite his aggressive playing style, Merlin manages to hit every one of his drum patterns with pin-point precision. This man is an absolute beast behind the kit.

What makes Oblivionized so satisfying to listen to is how they balance their bonkers technicality with moments of pure riff worship. Urwin will often drop into a thunderous groove that demands everyone in the room bang their heads and it’s captured perfectly on this recording.

The down-tuned nature of the guitar work also suits the mix as it contrasts with the drumming and vocals making each element of the band’s sound stick out in the mix. This is extremely important in a live recording as it’s very easy for these elements to meld into one unlistenable mess when every musician is giving it their all.

Oblivionized are one of the most exciting live bands in the UK and their sound is fascinatingly unique and devastating at the same time. Despite having to re-start You’re Spineless due to guitar issues, the band don’t put a foot wrong in this entire recording and it’s a beautifully visceral listening experience.

9/10

RAZOREATER

Razoreater deal with a different sort of mayhem; the band make metallic hardcore in a similar vein to Converge, Nails and Weekend Nachos which means that these boys have a thrashier and more direct playing style.

Like Oblivionized, Razoreater have a live show that will grab you by the balls and then run across the street while still clutching them. Razoreater’s music rarely slows down and the pace is exhaustingly fast. You can expect blast-beats aplenty on this recording.

Sadly the mix doesn’t work as well for Razoreater’s recording. This is down to the buzzsaw guitar tone clashing with the crash-heavy drum work. Because of the similarity of the two sounds it means it can be hard to hear the melody in Razoreater’s riffs. It’s not completely lost but sometimes you really have to pay attention to hear what’s going on in the guitar department. This is quite apparent on Razoreater’s cover of Slipknot’s Eeyore.

Regardless of mix, Razoreater’s performance is still utterly electric and it’s frankly amazing how they manage to keep up this level of intensity for their entire set. This is an exhausting experience that will keep the craziest mosh ninjas incredibly satisfied.

8/10

Oblivionized and Razoreater are champions of the UK underground music scene and this recording showcases exactly what’s so great about going to a dirty club show and getting your mosh on. This release is also accompanied by a live video recording of both band’s sets which is essential viewing if you’ve ever cared about the long lost art of the concert film. If you pre-order the split on cassette from Witch Hunter Records you also get a bonus Let it Die set which was also recorded at Stuck on a Name and like the Razoreater performance, it’s an utterly devastating streak of hardcore.

Order Oblivionized and Razoreater’s This is S.O.A.N. on limited edition cassette from Witch Hunter Records.


Review: Mage’s Last Orders

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When I noticed that Mage’s latest album Last Orders was only 7 tracks long I began to worry that the groove-metallers might have rushed an album out that wouldn’t make it to the half hour mark. What I was not prepared for was how much the band have grown as song-writers since Black Sands. Mage have evolved into a doom-ridden, sludgy beast of a band. The groove is still there but the band have seen fit to take elements from various down-tempo heavy music like desert rock and fuse it with their signature sound to create a thunderous slab of quality metal that’s immensely satisfying to listen to.

The band have also decided to indulge their proggier leanings by generally writing far longer songs than the band have created previously. Melodies are often not revisited once they shift into a new riff and there are some impressive bursts of speed in tracks like Dark Matter and Old Bones. These thrashier moments are beautiful little additions that help break up the slower pace of the album which is a genius move as the down-tempo nature of the band’s music could’ve become a bit tiresome.

Special mention has to be given to guitarists Woody and Ben who deliver massive riff after massive riff. There are plenty of thick, chunky chords to bite into throughout the album and they’re decorated with some impressive solos like the one on The Fallen. A good solo should always favour melody over technicality and Mage are fully aware of this which is why each solo on Last Orders is a really momentous occasion.

Rounding out this rather meaty package is the wonderful production job by Chris Fielding who keeps the guitar and bass tones as murky and filth-ridden as you’d expect them to be on a sludge metal record. Fielding has seen fit to give the bass prominence in this mix and it suits the huge, spacey vibe of songs like Lux Mentis and Beyond to a tee.

The only real negative we can sling at Mage is that they are an excellent sludge band in a sea of excellent sludge bands. Mage inhabit the same space as bands like Limb, Gurt, Black Moth and Trippy Wicked and they’re often a very similar experience. If more groovy, desert sludge is what you want then Mage have you covered but if you’re after something with an identity of its own then you might be out of luck.

Regardless, Mage have put together a stunning sophomore album that improves on every element of the band’s sound and marks a massive leap forward from their debut album Black Sands. Last Orders is an enormous, neck-bothering monster of an album that sludge fans will be stupid to miss.

8/10

Mage’s Last Orders is out now and available to order on CD via Witch Hunter Records.


Review: Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion

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When I discovered that Megalodoom were an instrumental doom band I simply couldn’t fathom how the band were going to catch my attention for an entire record without any vocals. Doom metal is traditionally slow-paced and a single riff can be drawn out for an entire song so without anything going on in the vocal department I was instantly sceptical of how the band were going to keep things interesting. Thankfully my preconceptions have been knocked for six because Megalodoom have a lot more to their music than what you’d normally expect from a doom band.

At only four songs long, Megalodoom’s second EP Tectonic Oblivion manages to total a healthy 26 minutes of punishing heaviness and it never gets boring for the entire duration. Tectonic Oblivion never rests on one riff for too long and manages to cram every song with as many intertwining melodies as possible. What Megalodoom achieve so well is making all these melodies fit flawlessly together and every song on the EP progresses in a natural fashion that’s extremely satisfying to listen to.

Megalodoom are also rather brilliant at texturing their music with a clever use of various guitar effects like in the lovely, atmospheric introduction to Polar Vortex. Even when the song kicks into gear the whole piece is given a wonderful, spacey quality thanks to the incessant use of phaser. It all sounds very other-worldly, like the soundtrack to a secret, underground civilisation of mosh greebos.

The band also manage to draw influences from desert rock which is instantly apparent from the opening riff to Amp Woe which is a song that the mighty Kyuss would be proud of. Once again it’s not too long before another beast of a riff follows and the band even manage to step things up a little with a subtle but effective tempo change. This is wonderfully progressive stuff with the slower pace allowing you to appreciate it all at a palatable speed.

Rounding the EP out is the beautiful production that smothers everything in a lovely dose of bass whilst also sounding like the band are playing the music in the middle of the outback. Tectonic Oblivion is certainly a very big sounding EP title and it does a perfect job of describing how utterly enormous it all sounds. What’s even more impressive is the band have recorded, mixed and mastered this EP themselves making this a truly DIY effort. If you’re playing doom metal and looking to record then I think you better be giving the Megalodoom boys and gal a ring.

Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion is a thunderous beast of an EP that manages to escape the potential boredom that their lack of vocals could have caused. The band have put together a hugely satisfying selection of riffs and melodies that tie together beautifully and create a behemoth of an EP that doom fans should be clawing over themselves to own.

8/10

Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion EP is available to download from Witch Hunter Records right now.


Our Picks for Catbird’s Sunday Roasting on Bloodstock Radio (17/11/2013)

We returned to co-host Catbird’s Sunday Roasting beside James Begley of Hybris on the 17th of November 2013. Below is a list of our picks for the show and links to online stores that allow you to purchase the releases they are featured on. We thoroughly recommend you scope out the bands we featured as we truly believe they are some of the best UK rock and metal artists doing the rounds:

MINE – Disappear (buy here)
Funeral for a Friend – Storytelling Part 2 (buy here)
Press to Meco – Affinity (buy here)
Rhoda May – #8 (Out 6/1/2014. Download 589 EP which features this song here)
Gurt – Psycho Killer (buy here)


Review: Gurt and Limb’s Split Roast

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Witch Hunter Records return with a split of epic proportions. London-based sludge-metallers Gurt and Limb join forces for ‘Split Roast’. The release features three tracks from both bands; one original song, one cover and one cover of a song from each other’s band.

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Gurt kick things off with the bombastic, grinding groove of ‘Sophisticate’ which rocks a killer riff that will satisfy the headbanger in all of us. Gurt decide to stick with a more mid-paced groove for the entire song instead of their usual switch between doom and thrash-punk which usually defines songs like ‘Soapfeast’. The change is definitely a positive one as the song allows you to take in that excellent groove and really appreciate it. A solid start from the sludgemeisters.

Next up is a hugely enjoyable cover of Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’ which has no place sounding so good as a sludge metal song. Gurt have done a brilliant job fuzzing up the Talking Heads classic and when vocalist Gareth Kelly belts out that famous “ooo-ooo-ohhhhh!” you’ll have a hard time not raising those claws. The song only stumbles when Kelly attempts the “fa fa fa fas” which don’t really lend themselves too well to the front-man’s growl, but otherwise this is a massively entertaining take on the new wave classic.

Finally Gurt have a go at rearranging Limb’s ‘Gift of the Sun’ from their recent 7” of the same name. Gurt definitely deliver in making the song sound like themselves which is a commendable achievement for any band making a cover. The main differences to the original come with Kelly’s choice of vocal style which is more of a scream compared to Rob Hoey’s more melodic bark. The only other change comes in simply slowing the track down slightly and making it rely more heavily on its more simplistic groove. Once again Gurt nail another satisfying slab of doom.

8/10

LIMB

Limb return with ‘Plague Doctor’ which proves this band are still on an upwards trajectory. Limb are a punishing desert rock outfit with massive hooks, simple yet enjoyable grooves and Rob Hoey’s raw yet melodious vocals which are a little bit more recognisable than Gurt’s. Limb have added another cracking song to their discography which is getting us incredibly hyped for their upcoming debut album.

Unfortunately for Gurt, Limb really steal the show when it comes to covers. The band give the stoner makeover to Queen’s ‘Son and Daughter’ which works almost too well. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe how well the song works with its central hook slowed down enough to give it more of an impact. This is hugely impressive stuff from Limb and not many bands can boast that they can make Queen sound like anybody else other than Queen.

Limb continue their cover onslaught with Gurt’s ‘Soapfeast’ which is made considerably more enjoyable simply by making Gareth Kelly’s vocals more understandable. The brilliantly over-the-top swear-a-thon contains the wonderfully daft line “I don’t really give a cunting fuck”. This is made even more enjoyable by repeating it over and over for the song’s refrain. Who would’ve thought swearing could be so fun?

9/10

Gurt and Limb’s ‘Split Roast’ is a wonderful release that is equal parts punishing and fun. How many doom records can you name that you would regard fun? This is the real pulling factor on ‘Split Roast’ and you can hear that both bands had an absolute blast making it. Is party doom a thing yet because I think both bands may have just invented it.

‘Split Roast’ by Gurt and Limb is out now and available to order from Witch Hunter Records.


Review: Confine’s Setting Fire to the Western Hemisphere

Confine are an ungodly amalgamation of the UK’s finest extreme metal musicians. The band feature Zac Broughton from Oblivionized, Edd Robinson from Human Cull and Disfortune, Rich Speakman from The Afternoon Gentleman and Gets Worse, and Chris Reese from Corrupt Moral Altar and HorseBastard.

Putting these 4 men in a room together has resulted in Confine and their debut EP, Setting Fire to the Western Hemisphere. It’s also resulted in a record so heavy it sounds like a freight train crashing through a series of grade A listed buildings. It’s quite remarkable how unforgiving this 8 track collection of blackened grindcore is and it’s all over and done with in just over 7 minutes. Hold onto your butts!

Each song on Setting Fire… clocks in at about 50 seconds and displays a melange of blast beats, guitar noise and screaming. It’s quite astonishing that the sheer brutality of this release is actually enjoyable. A huge amount of focus has been put into making memorable riffs which gives the songs a decent hook. It’s this much needed element that gives the listener something to focus on and in turn a decent melody to head-bang to.

The mix is incredibly drum-centric and Speakman’s playing is absolutely furious. The bass drum sounds like someone is striking it with a wet ball of socks and when the blast beats are unleashed it’s an almost euphoric display of brutality.

A special mention has to go to Reese who does a fantastic job of punctuating the songs with precision placed screams instead of just yammering over everything with no structure. Too many screamers randomly scatter their vocals over their band’s music and not enough think about exactly where to put them for the most devastating effect. Thankfully, Reese falls into the latter category.

Setting Fire to the Western Hemisphere is a like a wet dream for grindcore fans. Confine have managed to put together a fearsome, devastating slab of extremity that is bolstered by brilliant riffs, unbelievable drumming and some of the best arranged screaming on any metal record. Some actual thought went into this release; how often to you get to say that about a grindcore record?

9/10

Confine’s Setting Fire to the Western Hemisphere is available to pre-order from Witch Hunter Records now.


Review: Wraiths’ Wraiths

Dark hardcore noise-makers Wraiths are a brilliantly punishing prospect. The band hail from the North East and follow bands like Lavotchkin and Prelude to the Hunt in their quest to add more doom and general bleakness to the genre. This is their self titled debut EP and it goes a long way to prove that the band can make this type of gloomy heaviness just as well as the aforementioned bands.

Wraiths trade in speed for a more thoughtful and Earth-shattering beat-down which suits the claustrophobic and grim atmosphere that the band create. Naming the first song Pyramid Head gives the listener a good idea where the band is coming from; you can really see the image of a lonely, forgotten figure wandering the foggy streets of Silent Hill.

The metallic riffs on this EP give the whole release its’ biggest pulling power. Rae Robinson’s vocals never bother to go into chorus’ or gang chant territory in favour of adding another layer to Wraiths’ foreboding sound. This allows the guitar work to shine as Dan Charlton brings a brilliant, sludgy groove to the record. Charlton’s riffs are crushing, memorable and hugely commanding and form the focal point of the entire EP.

Hell Ride marks a high point as the growling riffs trade off with some more delicate moments which once again add even more texture to the band’s sound. There really isn’t enough we can say about how accomplished Wraiths’ sound is and this is only the band’s first release.

Unfortunately, the band begin to run familiar ground by Black Vultures and the slow, pounding rhythms you’ve been receiving for 3 tracks begins to wear a bit thin. While Wraiths’ focus on making their hardcore more doomy is commendable, there just aren’t enough ideas to keep it going to the end of the EP. Perhaps Wraiths really do need a burst of speed and aggression to keep their sound interesting for the listener.

Wraiths’ self-titled EP is a solid and brilliantly textured release that shows a band successfully adding more murk to the hardcore formula. This record has more in common with metal than it does hardcore, but the band have to be appreciated for still including the bruising attitude that attracts hardcore fans to the genre. It’s just a bit of a shame that the record seems to run out of ideas and becomes a bit of a tiresome listening experience once you realise the band’s style isn’t budging.

7/10

Wraiths’ self titled EP is available to buy on cassette from Witch Hunter Records now.