By: Michael Del Vecchio
Throughout history, many great stories involve the life-death-rebirth cycle: Jesus, the Dalai Lama, Gandalf, Harry Potter, and Ozzy Osbourne are a few examples. Witchrot’s recent restructuring puts them in the neighbourhood of this metal-resurrection pantheon.
It started in Fall of 2018, with Peter Turik’s progression from bassist to guitarist for Witchrot – Turik the Grey to Turik the White, if we’re keeping our references strictly metal.
On the lead-up to that Halloween, the relatively-unknown band released its 4-song EP, Witchrot, and spent the next month promoting their louder-than-Hell, take-no-prisoners, unholy matrimony of sludge punk and doom metal.
Fast forward to a nightmare before Christmas, when Turik found out his girlfriend and the band’s guitarist had committed acts of high infidelity together (they fucked). Witchrot kicked out the guitarist, the drummer moved on, and Turik dropped his (now) ex. On November 25, 2018, Turik posted this colourful information on the band’s Facebook page, and announced that Witchrot was officially on hiatus.
Turik’s post blew up overnight. Despite the intention to help the band step away from the scene, the post snared media attention from publications like VICE, blogTO and Consequence of Sound. The following articles – some directly featuring Turik – provided context on the incident and grabbed more attention from a range of audiences.
Any hiatus the band had planned was over. Witchrot shot out from Toronto obscurity and into headlining Lee’s Palace on December 28. The band found a new rhythm section and Turik resurfaced as the new guitarist. Reborn from chaos, Witchrot rose from its grave.
Internet notoriety has provided initial sparks for countless bands. Can the newly-risen doom-metal quartet stand the test of time on their merits as musicians and create life from media necromancy?
Witchrot at The Horseshoe Tavern
Witchrot: Four metalheads; three supporting acts.; two days after January 31; one legendary tavern. Everyone was professional and on-time – a heavy task for a card that has three opening acts (Flesh Rag, Bad Waitress and Possum). Each band set up their gear, played their set, gave it their all, and cleared out for the next band. No nonsense, all attitude – everyone having a great time.
I got there when Bad Waitress was gearing up to play their set. The women punctuated their wild, fast, heavy-hitter sound by showering the crowd with their sweat and screams. Each song was louder than the last one, and the intensity was so severe that eventually the drummer threw off her shirt altogether. The punk-rock four-piece pulled out a powerhouse performance and no one dared to stand still while their distorted soundwaves shrieked across the tavern’s walls. Two words I deciphered: FUCK THIS!
Possum’s singer looks like Edgar Allan Poe if he had spent more time with guitars and crewneck sweaters. Their dynamic set included components of blues, psychedelic, and overall progressive rock. Phased-guitars, unpredictable melodies and a fast-and-loose approach to time-signatures gave the band the largest range out of all the bands. The vocal mixing from the venue was the most consistent for these guys, too. Two Lyrics I deciphered: THE TIGER!
Close to midnight, the stage lights turned red, symbolically washing Witchrot’s four members in blood.
Witchrot’s singer/keyboardist Lea, nursed a red-wine bottle between squeezing ambient chords out of a keyboard, or projecting wails, shrieks and infernal lyrics through a reverb-washed microphone. There were a few points were Lea’s vocals were drowned out in the mix by the blasting instruments. Although they didn’t say much to the crowd, the band interacted with the audience during the songs. When some guy at the front of the crowd held up a lighter in approval, Lea smiled and ran up to blow the flame out before launching back into the next verse. The crowd pressed against the front of the stage, hands held up in the air, waving to rhythm of unhallowed grooves.
The majority of Witchrot’s songs are clock in at over 7 minutes, and throughout all that riffing and jamming and jumping around, nobody slipped up - the new rhythm section was tight. One of the last riffs in “Druid Smoke Part ii (The Sacrificer)” is a bluesy, harmonic riff that sounds like a metal wet-dream that Jack White had in a torture dungeon. Turik and Lea shared some vocal harmonies near the end of their set, all proving that Witchrot brings the melody and song-writing skills to match the pounding, shoveling, hammering sound in their book of spells. They navigated the waters of long compositions while enjoying and sharing the love of music with the audience. Two Lyrics I heard: DEVIL’S DIRT!
Witchrot, still early in their metal ascension, shows a promising future. At the end of January, they made an Instagram post talking about working on new music. Witchrot full-length in 2019?