Old Corpse Road: ‘Tis Witching Hour… As Spectres we Haunt this Kingdom

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Old Corpse Road: ‘Tis Witching Hour… As Spectres we Haunt this Kingdom
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Old Corpse Road: Tis Witchin Hour... As Spectres we Haunt this Kingdom
Folk Metal, Symphonic Black Metal
Godreah Records
November 11th, 2012
Release length: 57:20
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Old Corpse Road is a Symphonic Black and Folk Metal band that was forged in the United Kingdom. Born in 2008, the five piece has issued a demo titled The Echoes of Tales Once Told in 2009, which was met with plenty of praise, as was their 2010 split recording The Bones of This Land Are Not Speechless / English Black Punk Metal with The Meads of Asphodel, which was issued through Godreah Records. For 2012, the band finds themselves working with that label once more, releasing their debut full-length effort, ‘Tis Witching Hour… As Spectres we Haunt this Kingdom. Clocking in at just shy of a solid hour of Metal, does this effort put the band’s best foot forward, or is it an exhaustive look at the folklore that has inspired them?

Given some of the symphonic elements to the band’s performance, it’s understandable that this one would try to pack more of a crisp modern sound to it. The guitars have the typical Black Metal distortion to them that is a little on the sharper side, but in some cases are not afraid to be cleaner. The bass makes a sizeable impact to the music, being felt but not enough to dwarf out any other element. The keyboards really stick out here, varying on the output they give, but largely being a crystal-like sound that chimes away with a gothic touch in the background. The drums sound fantastic with crisp cymbals that are a bit further in the background compared to the solid tighter snap of the snares, and the deeper click of the bass kicks. However, it’s the vocals that really dominate over everything, showing a nice mixture of deeper spoken dialogue when necessary, though it’s the weakest compared to the higher pitched shrieks and lower gutturals that erupt throughout the release.

One quick spin through this effort, and it’s obvious the band takes on an early Cradle of Filth influence, though you wouldn’t really notice it during the instrumentals thanks to the stronger Folk Metal touch they have. “‘Tis Witching Hour” does find some symphonic elements in the keyboards that take more of a blackened path, introducing a desolate, despair ridden environment thanks to the crowing in the background, the held lower note, and the subtle shift to grander notes about fifty seconds in that eventually introduces some narration. “The Buried Moon” starts off with a little more going on with the keyboards, giving more of a hopeful tone to the music, allowing a little light to be shown into the environment that starts off so bleak. The others that follow end up part of a small conceptual piece that spans three songs.

“The Wild Voice Came,” starts that set, composed largely chanting against a marching drum beat, introducing “The Crier of Claiffe” well enough. “The Crier of Claiffe,” however, mixes together similar Folk elements to “The Wild Voice Came,” and slowly building up the Black Metal elements to the main verses, as well as the chorus that contains the same declaration of a boat that appears in that same previous song. The latter of those two work out best in the end, and some of the additional keyboards really just add to some of the tension that they hold. “The Secret of the Rolling Waves” has an emptier background, just subtle lighter keyboards that give it a depressing tone for less than a minute, especially when paired against the harmonized chanting that occurs to bring the three part tale to a close, but also seems to carry over into “Isobel – Queen of the Scottish Witches” in more than just atmosphere. Whether intentional or not, the first few minutes seem similar to “The Crier of Glaiffe” here and there, but offers a little more variety in the Folk elements, such as the sound of fire and cackeling of a woman that is meant to be taken as the witch herself. These shifts into that style from the various faster paced and near blasting Black Metal drums and guitar work can seem a bit erratic at times, but far from poorly executed or transitioned.

“‘Tis Witching Hour” does bleed seamlessly into “The Cauld Lad of Hylton,” which is a fantastic track from start to finish. A lot of the song focuses on a hazey, darker atmosphere that really stands out during some of the slower moments. The keyboards really shine through as more dialogue comes along, though the tighter vocal performance sticks out the most during some of the faster moments with a consistant pace on the snares, though varied between simpler and quicker bass kicks. “Glassensikes at Witching Hour” stands out nicely with a stronger Black Metal focus, and a more subtle Folk Metal influence that doesn’t constantly shift from one style to the next as dramatically, or as often as others. This leads to a far more consistant performance that pushes towards the nine minute length in a far more fluid, as well as enjoyable manner. The atmosphere isn’t quite as strong on this one, but there’s some distinct haunting, even intimidating moments, such as towards the end that seems to find some breakdowns, as well as passages largely focusing on the keyboards.

Old Corpse Road clearly try to incorporate a strong Folk Metal sense to their folklore driven lyrics, and it really shows thanks to how the music will often constantly shift between that style, and the Black Metal approach. However, the atmosphere and enviroment that often introduces, or establishes through the song, is largely thanks to the keyboards, letting the rest of the musicians stick with a primary blackened product that adds just a little extra bite to the tone of the content of the album or song. ‘Tis Witching Hour… As Spectres we Haunt this Kingdom is far from a bad effort, and really finds a nice edge to the crisp audio production that works in the band’s favor. There’s plenty of solid material on here, but in the end that aforementioned jumping between styles can be a little too much, though never really making you loose a great deal of interest. If you enjoy Symphonic Black Metal, then chances are you’ll enjoy what Old Corpse Road brings to the table on this effort, even though the overall sound is a little less than an original experience.

01. ‘Tis Witching Hour – 4:10
02. The Cauld Lad of Hylton – 7:34
03. Hag of the Mist – 9:56
04. The Buried Moon – 3:24

The Crier of Claiffe (9:59)
05. I: The Wild Voice Came – 1:06
06. II: The Crier of Claiffe – 7:57
07. III: The Secret of the Rolling Waves – 0:56

08. Isobel – Queen of Scottish Witches – 8:55
09. Glassensikes at Witching Hour – 9:19
10. As Spectres we Haunt this Kingdom – 4:03

Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Old Corpse Road (band)
Old Corpse Road

Physical review copy of this release provided by Godreah Records.