It takes a lot of ambition and confidence to endeavour releasing a complete composition solely crafted by a single individual but this is what American multi-instrumentalist Tim Kenefic hopes to achieve with his latest project DEATH ON FIRE. With a self released debut album entitled Witch Hunter set to arrive on February 2nd the stage is set and the competition is fierce. Can it leap over the ever raising bar of high standards set by today’s climate?
As the album commences it possesses quite a rustic production which suits the aggressive vibe of shrill vocals, and sinister tones. Opening track Your Lies displays quite a variation of styles, some bordering on black metal whilst others possess a more chaotic mathcore nature but the rather sudden end was quite confusing. Title track Witch Hunter begins with some soft yet dischordant notes before diving headfirst into swift riffing overlayed with some slick leadwork and vicious bellowing vocals. The track as a whole however seems to suffer a bit of an identity crisis throughout chopping and changing at will which feels slightly bewildering.
Requiem throws some heavy bass tones and an almost eclectic jazzy vibe into the mix before becoming seemingly bored of that train of thought and transitioning into evil sounding blastbeat tinged fury and proceeding track Make The Old Ways New Again follows suit before injecting some melody in the form of tasteful harmonics. This track is where the experimentation particularly begins to shine through with ominous backing chants which grasp your attention alongside some rather catchy guitar work.
The midway point has arrived and it still isn’t very evident what DEATH ON FIRE‘s main objective is with this effort. Betrayal brings more questions than answers with its solemn yet endearing tones which almost give a nod to the warm, floating nature of Planet Caravan until without warning recommencing the downtuned jabbing riffs accompanied by venomous vocal work. Despite the stark adjustment in pace Betrayal provides some of the most memorable sections on Witch Hunter. Something which is sadly lacking for the most part.
Meth Density ups the ante with some sludgy MORBID ANGEL style savagery intertwined with some sleek and inviting lead work that bluntly ceases like someone forgot to pay the electric bill, which is a massive shame as it showed a lot of promise like Kenefic had finally found his groove. Never See You Again sadly revisits similar issues experienced prior with some leadwork that feels completely detached from the supporting instrumentation like two songs accidentally overlayed simultaneously. The latter stages do however redeem this track somewhat with some clever bursts of riffing in one of the instances that show there is potential for this project to blossom into something so much more cohesive. Culminating track American Scum rounds off proceedings solidly with its frantic pace and chaotic demeanour but it all feels a little too late in the process to sway what has proven to be quite a conflicting array of musicianship
Witch Hunter is a very admirable and bold attempt on the surface but the record’s flaws begin to become too abundant to gloss over as the album progresses. Diversity and creativity are always key to ensuring you provide a gripping experience for the listener but at times too much of a good thing can prove costly and in this case the impression arises that the ‘throwing multiple ideas at a wall to see what sticks’ approach may have been executed resulting in a rather muddled and perplexing end product. There are moments of brilliance when a more restrained approach is taken and the listener is given the opportunity to engage with the music but they were mostly shortlived, not really giving a chance to let the riffs breathe before being abruptly negated by sheer brute force.
Witch Hunter is set for release on February 2nd via self-release.
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