WitchHammer - The Lost Tapes (Dazed) 2000
1. "Human Rights"
Norwegian metal that falls somewhere between power metal and thrash not unlike Reverend, early Flotsam & Jetsam or even fellow Norwegian metalheads, Artch. Vocalist Per Stale has a smooth and masculine, mid to high range voice that fits well the style of the band. A good portion of the music is of the faster speed metal variety, but the band slows it down here and there as well, allowing for a bit of diversity between songs. Don't really know much about these guys. There are no lyrics or information given. Given the sound and style, it almost sounds like this cd could have been recorded in 1990, but the copyright on the back is 2000. As for the album title, this makes me suspicious that this material may have been resurrected from a past year as well. I made a consorted effort to try and understand what the lyrics were all about, but to my dismay, I couldn't make out enough of the lyrics to make heads or tails of them, other than they deal with some kind of mysticism and perhaps some Catholicism.. This disc came as a bonus in a trade I made with a Norwegian trader with two Artch cds.
The internet is such a killer tool. Do a little searching and you'll be surprised what you can find. I found the band's official web page and discovered that I was completely correct in my guess of when this was recorded. According to their web page this disc was recorded at Studio 1 in Sarpsborg, Norway in 1990. Man, was that a good guess or what. I found out that this band has another album out called '1487' that was recorded in 1987 but has yet to see release in CD format. Also got some insight into the lyrics. Apparently the band drew inspiration for their lyrical concepts from the MALLEUS MALEFICARUM, from which the name of the band is also derived. The book, "MALLEUS MALEFICARUM-The Hammer of the Witches," was written in Germany in 1486 by the Dominican inquisitors Kramer and Sprenger. The book apparently gives detailed information on how to recognize, judge and execute the witches and heretics of medieval Europe. MALLEUS MALEFICARUM was approved by the Catholic Church in the year of 1487.
"1487" is yet another Witchhammer re-release, and a welcome one at that. The original record was released independently by the band in 1990. Much like the "Lost Tapes" the music here falls somewhere between classic heavy metal, speed metal and thrash. The band rides that border not unlike early Metal Church or the first Helloween and Flotsam & Jestam albums. However, don't expect them to sound like any of these bands. They have a unique sound that is all their own, led by the strong vocals of Par Ståle Pettersen. He has an incredible voice for this type of metal. He's sings in a high, clean style but has enough grit and gravel in his voice to keep him from sounding like a typical power metal clone. The album begins with an intro that sounds like something you might expect from early Helloween before bursting into "Transylvania", an excellent speed metal song that sets the pace for the entire CD. From this point on, the entire album is solid with each song complimenting the next. There are the usual peaks and valleys that add to the overall enjoyement, such as the melodic introduction to "The Whore of Babylon" or the blinding speed of "Enola Gay". Upon receiving this in the mail a few weeks ago, I cannot even count the times I have played it. I find it hard to believe that this CD was an independent release. It is an absolutely essential album that really does rival albums like "Metal Church" and "Walls of Jerico" for the speed metal crown. Can't wait for new music from these guys. Let's just hope they continue in a similar style as "1487" and "The Lost Tapes".
Witchhammer - Chapter 3: In Serenity and Awe (Release Party Edition # 144/300) (Independent) 2011