Witch Hunt "...As Priorities Decay" LP
Fuck yeah. This is the debut full-length from this New Jersey trio, and as I had hoped/expected they've vastly improved. The songwriting is more focused yet more diverse and innovative for the genre, the playing is tighter, the performances stronger all around, etc. I'm all over this shit. They've still got a ton of vocal tradeoffs happening between male and female shouting/yelling since all three members of the band handle some vocal duties, and the core of the material is still straightforward hardcore/punk, but they're more often throwing in little extras to color things up. Some of the songs are re-recordings of older work, but the new songs are definitely the strongest of the bunch. "Sick Game" opens the record with an excellent melodic intro and uses far more creatively dissonant chords and arrangements than the band's past material, but never fear as "Mindless Identity" follows with a far more direct hardcore/punk aesthetic - though still tighter and more efficient than their earlier releases. "By a Thread" is more melodic yet sinister, making for what I could argue is the band's best song to date; while the title track blends old school hardcore styled rhythms with added melodic tinges that bring in an unexpectedly peppy punk rock sort of vibe. "Legislative Bodies Legislating Bodies" is another of the more subtly melodic pieces where the basslines are absolutely raging all over the place (highlighting an awesome bass performance that tends to work as its own instrument rather than doubling the guitars), and "On My Honor" (a re-recording of an older track) is among the only compositions herein that uses more of a singing vocal style. I'm still not really big on that monotone singing style compared to the force of everything else the band has to offer, but I can live with it. "Detest" even takes more of a blasting sort of approach that borders on a grindcore aesthetic at times, plowing into a far more melodic and midpaced chord progression towards the end with some great layered guitar parts. I'm definitely okay with the recording this time out. The bass plays a pretty even role with the guitars, the drums sound fine, the vocals rest right in against the music, etc. It's still got a little bit of dirtiness to it (as one would expect), but the clarity definitely shines in some of the sparser pieces like "Life in a Box" with its discordant clean riffing and frantic discordant chords. On rare occasion the drumming feels like it's slightly out of time, but by and large the playing is energetic and well controlled, making for a really intense set of tunes. The packaging is fucking great, too. The LP comes on clear vinyl in a sleeve printed on matte stock, and inside is a fucking enormous 24" x 36" insert with a poster on one side and the lyrics and other such information on the other. All of the artwork and text is consistent in appearance and looks nice, and I still think the lyrics are basically unparalleled with this band. The content is longer and more involved than the vast majority of hardcore/punk bands, and it's also completely honest and pulls no punches, taking truly sincere stances on topics such as reproductive rights, sexism, domestic violence, the media, and various other general subjects relating to the socio-political climate of the world or just the hardships of life in general. But even though these are standard topics, the manner in which the songs are approached is very admirable. Each set of lyrics has a brief explanation as well, and I think that content is equally sincere. "When you wave your flag to bandage up your mistakes, I'll hang mine upside down, Not because I hate our country, but instead to counteract, Fuck your scare tactics, Fuck your smart bombs and compassionate conservatism, Your bullshit promises of peace and progress, I won't believe." This is great stuff, and I bet their next one's just gonna destroy. There are still a few minor hitches on this LP, but nothing that holds them back at all. Witch Hunt is definitely one of those bands that has something special about them... just that extra punch that makes them stand out from the pack despite their core remaining true to the roots of the genre. Look out for this one. (8/10)
Running time - 30:00 (approximately), Tracks: 12
[Notable tracks: Sick Game, By a Thread, Life in a Box, Legislative Bodies Legislating Bodies]
Profane Existence - http://www.profaneexistence.com
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