Artwork by Matt Stikker
A witch could vomit for any number of reasons. Perhaps too much eye of newt went into the latest cauldron of emasculation potion. Maybe a dried lizard ear or dried frog tongue was left on the shelf too long and created a noxious odor that sent Alizon the Pendle Witch reeling across the floor of her modest cabin. The thing is, it’s important to remember that witch vomit can serve many uses. First, it’s one of the main ingredients in a good pill that gives worms to ex-girlfriends. Second, if you have a baby that just won’t get to sleep a little witch vomit rubbed on that baby’s gums will have it snoring until late into the morning hours. Finally, witch vomit is good for a good old fashioned floor scrubbing. It gets out those pesky stains left decaying bodies usually leave behind after months in the same spot. That’s why we here at Last Rites always recommend having a clean, well-ventilated root cellar for storing bodies. Remember: a filthy corpse is a wasted corpse!
By the time your needle grooves itself onto the first few bars of “Dripping Tombs” you should already be well acquainted with the idea that Witch Vomit has going on. They are a band not interested in setting you up for the big show. There’s no foreplay, no pampering and certainly no warm up. Rather, they come out from behind the foggy curtain of the Pacific Northwest and blast you in the face and ass with their aggressive breed of American death metal. Thus, it should come as no surprise when “Dripping Tombs” breaks out the leather and cracks you across the face for nearly four consecutive minutes of chaotic riffs and driving beats. Drums and guitars rip forth doing far more gushing than dripping as squeals, whammy-dives and squirts lead into the simple one-two/snare-bass drum rattle of the track’s main body. Vocals are sneakily diverse, featuring screams in prelude before acceding to a lower attack offset by cymbal centers and thrash-y solos.
In contrast the following track, “Squirming in Misery,” takes a decidedly riffier approach revealing the band’s Incantation influence. Featuring riffs that are carefully constructed with each measure featuring both chaos and groove in a cyclical, rotating pattern that seems to carve a path ever inwards upon itself before characteristic whammy-driven squeals herald the approach of what could, for Witch Vomit at least, be considered a “break” in the action—meaning a one second respite where only a rapidly picked guitar soars into the foreground. The track ends on one of the most bang-worthy grooves on the album, leading one to wonder why this wasn’t a multiple-minutes-long outro until one remembers that this is Witch Vomit and gratuitous riffing and grooving are not in their playbook. They remain direct, to the point, and utterly devastating in their take-no-prisoners approach to deadly metals.
Witch Vomit is a far cry from half of the band’s other stupendous project Torture Rack. Displaying a far more diverse range of influences and ideas, Witch Vomit seem to have let the pieces fall into place on their sophomore LP. Influences ranging from Sweden’s Dismember to American stalwarts such as the aforementioned Incantation (as well as Autopsy) reside side-by-side in their leather clutch of death as Witch Vomit prepares for a night on the town. Inside the clutch you will find poison, ten drams of vole’s blood, two whammy bars, a pill that gives worms to ex-girlfriends, and multiple dried body parts just waiting to be surreptitiously dropped into someone’s drink rendering that person the perfect subject for cauldron worship.