Late last year, Witching Hour dropped a pretty hot record that I discovered just a bit into the new year. While that was forged with more of a heavy metal base topped with blackened tinges and vocals, they actually crafted metal leaning more towards blackened thrash previously. Going all the way back to 2011, you’ll find their second effort Past Midnight…, which is more blunt and straight-to-the-face.
This doesn’t take long to give itself away, as the first song after the intro titled “Under Evil Spells” kicks off on a speed-riffing wall of chaos. Fun as it may sound, the first couple of tracks left me rather unimpressed. The standard that you’ll find in every black/thrash disc was all too present, the chops weren’t there, and the strum-patterns got old very fast. To add insult to injury, the production here is quite awful, giving the guitars an unpleasant tone that isn’t too fitting. And then I got to “Barbed Wire Lust.”
About one-third of the way through Past Midnight…, you’ll find a total shift in assembly. In fact, the overall idea is far more similar to this record’s follow-up, as the licks are crafted on welcoming melodies that our favorite classics used. Even when the pace picks itself up, the delivery is far more intense, enough to make me overlook the tainted atmosphere. Nothing reaches this height for the remainder of the album, but at least from here on out the ideas run far less stagnant. “Black Countess” keeps this up with the higher and more elaborate licks. I can also appreciate the descending progression in “Dark Unholy Night,” and the vocals remind me a bit of early Destruction.
I think the biggest downfall here is that Witching Hour weren’t sure which direction they wanted to go with it. The production certainly doesn’t blend kindly with this musical execution, and the beginning is tough as hell to get into. But the ideas presented further in are pretty solid. And no matter where you look, the thrash cement is under everything. I believe this is what was needed to help develop the band’s best sound, which came next. Listen for the classic metal moments, rather the thrashier moments.
Past Midnight… came out on March 1st, 2011 through Evil Spell Records. Find it digitally and on vinyl, along with T-shirts right here!