Hellwitch - Syzygial Miscreancy
Displeased Records
7 songs (25:38)
Release year: 1990
Official Myspace, Displeased Records
Reviewed by Charles
Archive review
For those that didn’t know, Hellwitch released one hell of a comeback this year in the form of the glorious technical death-thrash slaughterhouse that was Omnipotent Convocation. The confusingly-titled Syzygial Miscreancy, from 1990, was their only previous full-length album. So it’s only appropriate that this curiosity is also given its due.

First things first; this is much less of a heavyweight than its 19-years-later follow-up. It set the death-thrash balance further in favour of the latter than Omnipotent Convocation did, despite being engineered at Morrisound, and it does not blow your ears off like the latter, partly because of the relatively olden-days production. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a huge death metal influence- for example, the vocals throughout are terrifying and don’t belong anywhere outside of the most blasphemous blastfest. It’s just that the overall feel here is one of a galloping speed band rather than a brutal one.

So for me the best comparison would be someone like Coroner, but heavily supplemented by the blasting of the band’s native Floridan, early-1990s scene. The riffs are similarly contorted, and there is a non-stop emphasis on the technical. Sentient Transmography, for example, fades in with guitar spasming seemingly aping Van Halen’s Eruption although on this occasion with far less dexterity. Almost exactly the same goes for Purveyor of Fear. These strange intros don’t work that well and make the whole thing sound a little bizarre, but within the context of the actual songs themselves the solos often impress with their exuberant widdliness.

Highlights would include Nosferatu; a fast and intense hammering-together of blistering speed metal riffs and sporadic blastbeats to add sonic weight. The Ascent winds through a continuously twisting procession of scraping death metal fury and angular but energising speed metal riffs, even including some tastefully layered acoustic guitar in a rare moment of prog musing. Mordirivial Dissemination is maybe the best overall, opening atmospherically with militaristic percussion and thunderous doomy chords before progressing into a riotous up-tempo thrasher. It also has the album’s best solo, screeching away noisily like Kerry King practicing arpeggios.

Unlike Omnipotent Convocation, this doesn’t belong in the rarefied elite of technical thrash metal bands, although it certainly snaps at their heels. It sometimes feels underpowered because some of the riffs and solos are not quite as ferocious as they should be. Which is something that certainly couldn’t be said of the new one. This is worth tracking down, but remains a bit of a curiosity that the band have surpassed in their modern incarnation.

Killing Songs :
Mordirivial Dissemination, The Ascent, Nosferatu
Charles quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Hellwitch that we have reviewed:
Hellwitch - Omnipotent Convocation reviewed by Charles and quoted 92 / 100
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