BLACK WITCHERY - Evil Shall Prevail 2LP
During its nearly twenty-year history, Black Witchery has appropriately earned recognition as one of the most important cults of bestial black metal, and black metal in general, ever to have emerged from North America. Under its original moniker, Witchery, the band released two demos before changing its name and then went on to produce an EP and two split recordings before unleashing its masterpiece full-length debut, “Desecration of the Holy Kingdom,” in 2001. These early recordings capture an evolution in Black Witchery’s sound that has led them to their current position as one of the most violent purveyors of black metal of the last decade and a half. Nuclear War Now! is proud to resurrect the unholy document of Black Witchery’s evil ascension into the dark of night with its release of “Evil Shall Prevail,” a collection of all tracks from the band’s “Demo 97,” “Evil Shall Prevail” demo, “Summoning of Infernal Legions” EP, and its contribution to the “Hellstorm of Evil Vengeance” split with Conqueror. Additionally, previously-unreleased outtakes from the “Hellstorm…” recording session are also included, as is Black Witchery’s cover of Sarcófago’s “Black Vomit” from the “Tribute to Sarcófago” compilation CD from 2001.
As one would expect, the earliest Black Witchery tracks from “Demo 97” are those least similar to the band’s more recent output. Most notably, both of these tracks include keyboard intros, an element which was completely abandoned on subsequent recordings. This demo also demonstrates a more palpable influence from the archetypal second-wave black metal bands from Northern Europe, such as Darkthrone. The raspier, more necrotic vocal delivery from Impurath on this recording, and to varying degrees the others on this collection, contrasts with the more abruptly violent style that he has since adopted. Also, whereas more recent Black Witchery material achieves much of its potency from the monolithic nature of all its components acting as a singular bludgeoning machine, the guitar riffs in this earlier material stand out a bit more at times from the other instruments in their tone and technique. One clear example of this is the tremolo-picked arpeggio that opens “Destruction of the Holy Kingdom.” This particular song also is noteworthy due to its appearance on two separate recordings in the collection, as is also the case with a few others. These differing versions are indicative of the experimentation that Black Witchery undertook with these compositions, as one readily notes with the difference between the distorted, tremolo-picked, closing guitar line in “Destruction…” on the “Evil Shall Prevail” demo, versus the clean, single-note picking of the same line on the “Summoning…” EP.
Beginning with the band’s tracks on the “Hellstorm of Evil Vengeance” split, the eventual end result of Black Witchery’s evil metamorphism becomes foreseeable. The unadulterated violence of these five songs serve as a perfect precursor to the band’s defining full-length debut, “Desecration of the Holy Kingdom.” In fact, two of the songs included on the “Hellstorm…” split were later re-recorded for inclusion on the album. These tracks are characterized by ceaselessly pulsating, percussive blasts punctuated by cymbal crashes that evoke an image of hell fissures opening in sequence around the listener’s feet, leading to the ultimate moment in which he finds himself completely surrounded by the molten sea of the apocalypse. It is in this final hour when one inevitably realizes that, in fact, evil shall prevail.