Razing the Shrines of Optimism by Witchmaster and Voidhanger

Release date: January 20, 2017
Label: Third Eye Temple

There is a virtual plethora of metal releases every year, and online writers and bloggers sometimes fail to notice less-hyped wonders in underground metal. But, no one is perfect, and the choice to review what material by what band is thankfully made at the liberty of most reviewers. Echoes and Dust likes to feature underground bands and bigger bands on the same timeline, and while Echoes and Dust is not the biggest blog/zine in the world, reviewers here tend to cover a gamut of styles, and I intend to cover smaller markets over big ones. It’s all for the love of the scene, a love for the craft that is writing persuasive articles and conducting in-depth interviews so fans get to know more about the bands we feature. So, here comes another release that hasn’t gotten the attention some bands get by word of mouth, so the pen, being mightier than the sword, carries our hopes of changing that. The bands we speak of here are Witchmaster and Voidhanger, who have recorded a split album called Razing the Shrines of Optimism.

Sometimes sounding like it was recorded live, Razing the Shrines of Optimism, benefits fans with a perfect pitch for passionate performance by either band. Witchmaster opens up the split with blistering blackened thrash that absolutely pummels audiences with a mixture of shreds and blasts, double-barrel shotgun double bass drum kicking, and interesting chord progressions that hold the listener’s interest. Credible for the commendable drumming is Behemoth and Azarath drummer Inferno behind the kit at Witchmaster.

The songs go punk and d-beat at times. Then, blast sections and transitions pace the fluid song structure. Worthy for a casual listen and a huge collector’s item for fans of Behemoth wunderkind Inferno, Witchmaster largely throws down the gauntlet during blast sections when they are most intense. Voidhanger has a little hardcore and punk to pace their blackened thrash attack.

Both bands are adept at conjuring catchy riffs. The bass is audible on record, which always comes as a pleasant surprise considering the popularity of necro production amongst blackened metal bands. Voidhanger is at close proximity in practice and ideology with Witchmaster, preferring more hardcore riffs during transitions than Witchmaster does, however slight so as not to be noticed by fans.

Shrines of optimism razed, my listening session ends with a much-needed break from all the moshing I’m doing in my room. Both bands do pick up the pace at times, to devastating results. The lyrics are often intelligible, and the songwriting reflects the work of seasoned, talented musicians. Hype may not carry Witchmaster and Voidhanger to heights Behemoth has ascended to, but Inferno is in top form on his end of Witchmaster’s musical formula, while Voidhanger come up with the material that is easily catchier and more nuanced. Easily, blackened thrash of top-tier quality, both bands deserve a nod and a visit to their upcoming shows by hook or by crook. Another record worth spinning, with very few people listening (or reading, for that matter), bop along before you make that much needed visit to Third Eye Temple’s webstore for a worthy split comprised of fun blackened thrash metal goodness. Only too happy to sample stuff in my promo bin at no one’s behest, I gladly pass the choice onto you dear reader, to invest time in listening to two bands with songwriting chops.

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