Wykked Wytch – The Ultimate Deception (14 February 2012, Goomba Music)
Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! Hugs and kisses and hearts and flowers, and all that. I don’t know if they have anything like this wherever you live, but here, February 14th is supposed to be some sort of commemoration for the martyred Roman-Catholic Saint Valentinus (although various accounts differ as to which particular saint named Valentinus or Valentine the day is named for, or even whether he was actually a real person in the first place), but of course in typical fashion, any links to a religious observence that originally existed have long since gone out the window (just like Easter turned into a day for little kids to get fat eating bunnies made out of chocolate), and nowadays it’s mostly just a time where people are expected to spend a bunch of money on cards and candy or fancy dinners for their significant others. At least, if they want to keep that person as a significant other.
So, in keeping with this tradition, I’ve got a lovely Valentines Day gift for you, Dear Reader. It’s a heart-shaped box filled with dulcet melodies and harmonious sonnets; love songs with lyrics so beautiful you might just be moved to tears.
Yeah, fuck all that. Actually what I’ve got for you is a review of a record being released today on Goomba Music, called The Ultimate Deception, which is the fifth album by Floridian extreme metal band Wykked Wytch — whose core is as black as the crispy, charred remains of a martyr who’d been burnt at the stake.
And He asked him, “What is thy name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion: for we are many.” — Mark 5:9
The biblical tale of the man who called himself Legion (because he had been possessed by, literally, a legion of demons) is quite a well-known story. Both the name “Legion” and the tagline “for we are many” are commonly referenced throughout the world of heavy metal. However, it wasn’t until I began listening to The Ultimate Deception that I truly had a glimpse of what a person possessed by so many devils would actually sound like.
Throughout the nearly two-decade history of Wykked Wytch, the band’s sound has gradually evolved, which is partly attributable to the fact that over that same time period there has been quite a revolving door of band members. In fact, the only constant member from album to album has been founding vocalist Ipek. However, her presence is enough of a defining characteristic for an entire band, as evidenced by the fact that she has maintained the same project name over the years despite all of these changes. (After recording had been completed on this new allbum last spring, and mixing and mastering were commencing, the vocalist had stated, “As it stands now the album is such a refreshing and drastic rebirth I’m not sure if this album will be released under ‘Wykked Wytch’ or as a new project. Stay Tuned!!”)
Well, it’s pretty clear what she chose, and now the band, which includes new lead guitarist and principal songwriter Nate Poulson, keyboardist Salvatore LoPresti, and session drummer Kevin Talley (whom you might remember from his stint with Dying Fetus a while back, or several other bands), are ready for their creation to be unleashed into the world.
What they’ve assembled here would primarily be described as black metal, although with some symphonic or gothic shades at times, such as the string intro that leads into epic opening track “Birthing the Beast” as well as various hints of more melodic parts found throughout. There is also a considerable amount of death metal or melodic death metal mixed in, as well. The drums and guitars seem equally comfortable operating in both black and death modes, which suits the vocals perfectly.
Yes, the vocals: I made mention of the voices of a legion of demons, and that is truly what you will find throughout these ten songs. Ipek, astoundingly the only vocalist present in the recording, possesses a rather convincing death growl, blackened shriek, reptilian snarl, hardcore shout, and melodic — soaring, almost operatic, at times — clean singing voice. And she uses them all. In the same song. Often more than one at the same time.
This unique blend of various voices is constantly shifting, giving each song a slightly different character — almost as though this cadre of evil spirits inhabiting a single body were all struggling for dominance. It certainly is an intriguing effect, and the overdubbing definitely increases the strength of the vocals: the sum total sounds far more menacing than any of the individual component parts would have sounded by themselves. Also, surpisingly, at no point does this conglomerate of sounds seem jumbled or muddled: in fact, having so many different intonations of the same lyrics actually seems to enhance the clarity, because practically all of the words are easily understood throughout the album (unlike in typical black metal and some death metal).
Wykked Wytch have offered up a preview of the album, courtesy of Amp Magazine, allowing track #4 “Despised Existence” to be streamed in its entirety. This one works just as well as any, as a representation of the album as a whole, as it runs the gamut from lightning-fast guitar runs and otherworldly screaming to slower, goth-inspired breaks with haunting singing, and finally culminating in perhaps the most venomous, malignant-sounding rasp to be found anywhere on this record. But enough talking about it, just hit play and take it all in:
As an extra special bonus, you can also check out the band’s cover version of “Fade to Black” which appears as track #8 on the album. Personally, I think it’s pretty well-done, and an interesting take on the song, but it doesn’t really showcase the band’s strengths and abilities as well as the original compositions do. The best parts of the song are the blistering black metal sections; during the earlier, cleaner parts it almost feels like they are rushing to get that out of the way. On the album, this song is followed by “Abolish the Weak” which starts out at a fierce, stormy tempo, and to some degree it feels like a refreshing return to true form after “Fade” had broken up the album’s continuity a bit.
On a related note, the final song “Eyes of a Vulture” seems to end somewhat abruptly, leaving a sort of unsettled “oh, is it over?” feeling. I don’t know whether this is intentional, but I actually think the album would have benefitted from a slight reordering of the tracks: simply moving the cover song out of the eighth slot and putting it after “Vulture” would have preserved the integrity of the set of original songs, while adding a fitting change of pace as a coda. But anyway, here is their interpretation of “Fade to Black”:
**UPDATE** The band is now offering a THIRD song stream, track #6 “When the Sleepers Rise” which is currently available at Pure Grain Audio.
**UPDATE #2**As of 28 February, Goomba Music is now streaming the entire album, so feel free to disregard all the links above and check the whole damn thing out here: