Sunday 26 September 2021

Rorcal & Earthflesh - Witch Coven

Labels: Hummus Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 02 Apr 2021


1. Altars Of Nothingness

2. Happiness Sucks - So Do You

Following on from my slightly nostalgic post about Razoreater the other day, here's another band that I featured a long time ago (albeit only eight years ago this time). I wrote about Swiss doom/post-hardcore act Rorcal back in 2013 when I reviewed their 2012 split release with Profond Barathre and Malvoisie. Obviously it's been a while and since that release, Rorcal have gone onto produce three full-lengths, a live album, a split and an EP prior to this collaboration with Earthflesh (the newest band from Rorcal's original bassist Bruno). Earthflesh is ostensibly a noise band and here they collaborate with Rorcal to create what is billed as Rorcal's heaviest music to date. Witch Coven came out in April on various formats via Swiss label Hummus Records.

I’ve found myself reaching for more expansive and drawn-out music over the last couple of days, so this might not be the only lengthy two-song release that makes it on the blog this week. Rorcal is a name I know from old, whereas Earthflesh is new to me. They both collaborate here to create something that lasts for over half-an-hour. I’m expecting heavy and weird (maybe?), and as’ Altars Of Nothingness’ opens with choral chanting, my initial thoughts are backed up slightly. That said, the choral vocals are very pleasant and tuneful. Subtle noise begins to creep in, in the form of distant screams and ambience around the two-minute mark. Not long afterwards, Rorcal and Earthflesh kick things off properly with slow doom riffs and cold harsh noise/percussion. In terms of structure, the song is very much led by that noise, though Rorcal more than match it with their slightly lumbering approach.

I guess you could call this avant-garde doom if you were being pretentious. I’m not trying to be though, I’m just trying to appreciate this for what it is, which is downright scary in it’s menacing intensity. At times it’s more droning than it is foreword, which is probably the aim after all. When collectives ignore rules and boundaries, this is what’s produced and it is truly heavy! Dread dripping from every note and individual texture. Talking of textures, there are small moments of metallic riffage going on towards the end but they’re quickly stamped out by the choral outro and it’s noisy atmospherics. 

‘Happiness Sucks - So Do You’ is a bold statement of a title and it’s music more than backs up the sentiment by going hard straight from the off. Both Rorcal and Earthflesh carry on what they started with ‘Altars Of Nothingness’ yet manage to make their music even more expansive and mayhemic. It’s not black metal but it does have some elements of that genre flowing through it. Rorcal’s doom/post-hardcore of old nestles deeper in the mix on both of these tracks, yet seems to sound heavier because of it. That maybe has something to do with the addition of Earthflesh. Much like the collab between Full Of Hell and Merzbow some years ago, this one is just as hellish. 

The above paragraph poured out of me after only five-minutes of ‘Happiness Suck- So Do You’, but there’s still so much to say. Art is very much in the eye of the beholder and that’s still the case here, but to these ears this is aural art at it’s best. The mid-section (if you can call it that) that comes after those first five-minutes, is a lot more introspective, as if they’re holding back slightly. The percussion leads with ample feedback and chants showing through, as the vocals get ever harsher and things begin to build again. What follows is another lengthy, harrowing barrage of heaviness, culminating in truly deafening feedback at the end.

This collaborative release could well go down as the heaviest record of 2021. I don’t know whether Rorcal and Earthflesh are planning any further releases like this, but if they are, they can only get better.

You can stream and purchase Witch Coven as a name-your-price download below:-

Rorcal -

Earthflesh -

Physical copies can be purchased from Hummus Records below:-

Hummus Records -

No comments:

Post a Comment