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Album Review: Witching Hour – And Silent Grief Shadows The Passing Moon

 As easy as it would be to just say that And Silent Grief Shadows The Passing Moon is just another ripping black/thrash record, I won’t. Not only because that would be boring and redundant, but also because it wouldn’t be true. No, Germany’s Witching Hour are a very elaborate band, and although labeled as such, it’d be more fitting to simply call this record blackened heavy metal. Now I know, you’re thinking “wouldn’t that just be called black metal?” Simply put, not at all.

There are blast beats and tremolos thrown into Witching Hour’s sound, but that in no way makes up their foundation. For the most part, And Silent Grief Shadows The Passing Moon relishes in the styles established by the NWOBHM artists. The riffs are very clean and concise, and you can hear every note quite clearly since the instrumentation takes a lot of the forefront here. Looking at the album opener and title track, this ten-minute beast lays out the epic sound that characterizes a lot of this record, with vocals not coming in until the song progresses past the halfway point. Rhythmic repetition is used heavily here, for the sake of suspense and transition alike.

Speaking of the vocals, they aren’t as centered on high, agonizing shrieks as you’d imagine. Instead, they’re a bit lower in pitch and draw more breath, ultimately making them a bit more in your face and not drowned out by noisy instrumentation. Different vocal approaches and cleaner guitars are complemented by guitar licks that sound rather dismal and quite depressing at times. There’s nothing cooler than emotions felt in harsh music. But don’t let them fool you, because numbers like “Behold Those Distant Skies” will change that mood right up without warning, adding in progressive sections that combine bass-heavy backings and odd drum fills.

Rest assured, you can definitely hear some thrash metal leak in here; since a lot of early metal acts implemented speed metal, you’ll find it in most of these songs at least somewhere. “As I Walk Among Sepulchral Ruins,” the last track, is probably the only one that’s completely a blackened thrash song (despite the slow intro), as it has a much meaner grit to it, where the other songs seem a bit friendlier. The sadder parts and the cleanliness are likely the cause of that, but there’s also a lot of melody, even in the vocals, which takes down the aggression. Plus, an acoustic guitar manages to sneak into the end of “The Fading Chime Of A Graveyard Bell,” so there’s that too.

Yikes, I’m about out of breath. This is easily one of the most involved blackened heavy/thrash records I’ve ever come across, as there is a lot to digest for sure. If you’re seeking a speedy epic album consisting of long, somewhat depressing songs that use a lot of repetition, then wait no longer to feast your ears. It’s definitely a mood album, and it took about four listens to gather everything, but Witching Hour will not steer you astray here. And The Silent Grief Shadows The Passing Moon came out on December 21st, 2018 through Hell’s Headbangers, and is available in CD and digital formats on their Bandcamp page. Vinyl and cassette formats exist but are currently sold out on the page.

Editor Grade

A-

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