(N) Old Corpse Road - Tis Witching Hour...As Spectres we Haunt this Kingdom Review

By Pagan Tordengrav

In the band’s own words:  “Old Corpse Road was conceived during the autumn season of 2007 during a brief excursion to the Lake District, more specifically Haweswater. This Autumnal break, in celebration of the wondrous and powerful music that we all know as Black Metal, awoke our desire to share our musical passions with other like- minded people. The band name was taken from the road of the same name which rises out of the Haweswater valley and leads to Mardale. Old Corpse Road is not aiming to break any musical barriers, nor do we seek fame or infamy; we only seek to give back to the scene that has given so much to us.”

Not having heard much Black/Folk Metal, I am keen to see what is in store here. Judging by the song titles it will be right up my alley, as well as being different and unique. The mere mention of Witches and Spectres makes me sit up and take an interest, and when coupled with Black/Folk Metal well it is a must as I feel this genre is overlooked somewhat. Old Corpse Road draw influences from many diverse bands: Bal-Sagoth, Primordial, Cradle of Filth, Burzum, Emperor, Abigor and Immortal. They have also admitted to enjoying classic early doom bands such as My Dying Bride, Celestial Season and Paradise Lost.

Tis Witching Hour is the debut album from the Darlington based band, and features an incredibly tasteful and sophisticated front cover that shows off the ominous complexity which black/folk metal has: incorporating elegant gothic writing which really gives an air of serious importance about it.

Tis Witching Hour

The sophistication continues with a superb build-up of intrigue begins. Ravens cackling and then a menacing voice starts up amid the jangling strings and a chorus of a saintly but haunting melodic choir of voices merrily chanting away in the background to some superb keys.

The Cauld Lad of Hylton

This track bursts into action with some thunderous screeches and then a low growl – blast beats plunder boding evil at a rate of knots but then slows and a more dream-like flurry takes over, but the vocals do not let up and a more familiar screeching vocals along with an unholy growl comes into play – it literally sends chills down your spine, with some haunting keyboards that wouldn’t seem out of place at the Adams Family residence. The melodic chanting really adds an inauspicious flavour to the proceedings. Superb track; for the people who love something different and unique!

Hag of the Mist

This track has more of a blackened feel to it as the music builds to an intimidating frenzy. The evil black vocals screech out with an unholy chant accompanied by a more gruff and powerful growl. In the background the guitars sound solid and uncompromising. A jangle of melodic keys float around and then an explosion as the grisly vocals take hold. A serious plethora of nastiness with aggressive vocals and thunderous bass builds and there is no compromise here. It sums up a hostile and frightening image of literally - a hag of the mist.

The Buried Moon

Another ominous track that has a more sophisticated edge of brooding about it, with soft keyboard melodies that have dream-like qualities - offer the listener a soothing but intimidating listen and quite a classical composition. The acoustic strings add so much to this track. It is a real little gem, of soothing yet cleansing power.

The Wild Voice Came

A male voice starts up and is then accompanied by a host of other voices – “Again, again the wild voice came! A boat, a boat in heavens name!” The sounds of gently trickling water and a sparse bell add intrigue and mystery to this one minute and 6 second track.

The Crier of Claiffi

Haunting strings crisp and clean sound beautiful and dreamy and then Satan himself screeches amid a wild array of guitar and plundering drums. Briefly slowing to allow a deep male vocal to sing and then within seconds the musical content ferociously starts up again. The chanting rhythms adding a foreboding feel to an already menacing track. The folk side of Old Corpse Road ever present but more so on this track with swaying rhythms and solid beats. This is quite a long track at over 7 minutes long.

The Secret of Rolling Waves

Enchanting harmonic vocals which last about a minute but don’t really serve a purpose in my opinion except as an intro to the next track.

Isobel – Queen of Scottish Witches

Ominous and yet breath taking all at the same time as the haunting melodic strings purge the soul. Rhythmic and soothing but it still manages to possess an edgy dark feel with softly spoken vocals; and a screechy accompaniment of a blackened nature adds a nice dark twist to this atmospheric track with the evil cackling from Isobel, I presume - is superb!  A strong growl adds a nice complexity to this strong, unyielding and hard-hitting track.

Glassensikes at Witching Hour

Interesting to note – (The Glassensikes Hound is a spectral dog which haunts the Harewood Hill area of Darlington. First the head appears, then its body materialises before onlookers flee in terror) Consistent beats flurry and evil screams outline the marvellous surge of guitar as the track builds to an epic proportion of wondrous folklore and myths. Bellicose and ambient this track is one to behold with particular interest and intrigue.

As Spectres We Haunt this Kingdom

Poignant and hostile this over baring track emanates evil from within a musical spectrum and is a reminder of the remnants that have long gone – delving into another realm of wonder and enchantment. Its choral voices reach to a height of unconquered history within the musical field.

To sum up: From the land of pointy hats that have adorned the heads of many a witch who in turn has indeed trampled the earths landscapes for centuries – this album conjures up a well carved imagination into what roamed the earth years ago and may well still be roaming the villages, lakes and castles of today; who knows?

Old Corpse Road has captured a rural path that leads into an obscure and interesting world of legends and folklore with their unusual and unique blend of black/folk metal. Dragon slayers, goblins, wizards and devils all play a part in folklore but Old Corpse Road should have a place in your record collection for its exceptional portrayal of Black/Folk metal, which will bring to life tales from the past and bring them into the distinct present, shape shifting into a powerful and magical insight into the unknown.

Devil Horn Rating (Out of Five): \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/