Monday, March 7, 2011

Witchburner - Final Detonation (2005)

I'd never been much of a fan of Witchburner, but their 2001 album Incarnation of Evil threatened to change my opinion, with some truly vicious riffing and vocals that brought the whole primal black/thrash aesthetic to bear. They spent a few years dicking around with some EPs and split recordings after that, but returned in 2005 with Final Detonation, which it not actually a 'final' anything, but more of the same. There's a consistent, level production value here which some of their previous efforts might have lacked, but I actually found the writing to be all too straightforward in its worship of old Sodom, Kreator, Destruction, Possessed and Slayer, so much so that there are few if any riffs that capture the bestial quality that was rampant in the 80s.

It's just a steady, unswerving homage with the appropriate cutting leads, old school Mille/Tom Angelripper gremlin vocals, and doesn't really explode in your face like some of their older tunes ("German Thrashing War"). Everything from the rapid "Iron League" to the Slayer-like, evil intro of "Master of Hell" is executed with sincerity, and the crisp battering ram tone of the guitar ensures that the material is something more than lifeless, but it's not until the 5th track, "Thrash Till Death" that the riffs found any register on my conscience. Sadly, by this time I already had a much better "Thrash Till Death" ringing around in my skull, and the rest of the album also stakes out its share of lyrical derivation "Alcohol Patrol", "Bloody Countess", and so forth. There is one song in there, "Warlord (Ruler of the World)" which I found to be fairly engaging with a few guitar lines that might have been cult classics were they birthed in another era, but this is heavily outnumbered.

The primal drive behind black/thrash metal is foremost its razor, ripping level of intensity and excitement, and though Final Detonation is not exactly crossing the finish line at a turtle pace, it just lacks for more than a phoned in feeling of restless discontent. It only ever concerns itself with being adequate and never with tossing the torch over the gathering crowd and actually burning the namesake witch. It's definitely not the measure of its full-length predecessor, and if given a choice, I'd probably even listen to 1998's Blasphemic Assault over this. Success seems to ever elude this fairly long term German act, and with an album like this, it is not difficult to reason out why.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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