Rorcal / Earthflesh - Witch Coven

24 Apr 2021 - Thorsten

Noise-Black-Metal | Hummus Records | Release date: 02 Apr 2021

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How should one start a collaborative release between one of the best Black-Metal bands around and a crazily gifted noise artist? With lots of noise-attacks? With spiraling arpeggios? Well, Rorcal and Earthflesh start with near-Gregorian chants!

Earthflesh is none other than Bruno Silvestre Favez, the original bass player of Rorcal, who was with Rorcal during much of their early period and thus is also co-responsible for some of the most innovative records of the new millennium. For some time now he has been working under the moniker Earthflesh and has (mostly self-)released some mind-boggling noise records and now the whole thing closes full-circle with the release of Witch Coven, the collaboration between him and his former band.

And as mentioned before – the whole thing starts in a completely, utterly, flabbergasting way: With group chants that sound like straight outta cloister! When the second harmony sets in and shows much more dynamics, the whole thing picks up speed and yet, they keep the unexpected intro to “Altars Of Nothingness” going for more than two minutes, even though the last few seconds there are some frightening growls, which sound like the Hound of the Baskervilles ready to attack his last victim, and some very subtle noise tidbits in the background. But then – after 2:45 minutes – all hell breaks loose, the animal escapes its cage and sets out to hunt. Whom? In this case, the listener as the strangely groovey drums are countered by harsh noise walls which sound like the fire crackling underneath the witch’s cauldron! We witness an incantation born in and from flames! Only the vocals are able to subdue the chaos, the flames and the despair spilled out into the open non-expecting world.

There is something about Rorcal that is hard to describe, but if you ask me, it is ability to adapt to every situation imaginable. They are able to write the “score” to a chilling book set in rural, heated Texas and also to collaborate with fellows that could be further apart: Earthflesh, KK Null (on 2014’s live version of Világvége, noise-core-innovators Process Of Guilt (on the 2014 split EP) or fellow Swiss institution Kehlvin (on 2007’s Ascension) – the only thing that all these acts might have in common is their wish to work with Rorcal. The Geneva-based outfit could well be the best band to collaborate with, because they are always recognizable as Rorcal and yet they allow everyone to incorporate so much into the release that the final result is much more than the sum of its parts – and that is essentially what split or collaborative releases are about.

Witch Coven (look at the artwork, folks!) is proof for that: two nearly equally long tracks, 30 minutes (!!) and showing every aspect of innovative Extreme-Metal! It’s steeped in Black-Metal, industrial elements (listen to the buoys in “Altars Of Nothingness” which sound like LLNN), slowly-building doom parts, speedy noise attacks (listen to the beginning of the second track “Happiness Sucks – So Do You”) and a concept!

This record shows that Rorcal might be the most Black-Metal band around, the one most able to adjust to every new scenario. Witch Coven is already my split-record of the year! Beat it!