Album: Rotting Away
You wake up one morning barely able to move—your head ringing as if someone had whaled on it with a mallet, your skin tender, tightly stretched across each bony protrusion in your body. It feels as if, in your sleep, someone tangled your veins in a knot and now they’re screaming to become undone, itching as if each capillary was exposed to poison ivy. You went to sleep in perfect health, but woke up addled with disease and despair, lamenting the loss of life that slips away with each breath. What happened? Rotting Away happened—the debut release by one-man onslaught, Methwitch. While you slept, Methwitch climbed under your sheets and into your body through your pores, invading every organ with a toxic, infectious heaviness that lies somewhere between The Acacia Strain’s bold, brash brutality and slamming sinfulness a la Ingested or Acrania. Rotting Away is a drug—a drug that once heard, cannot be unheard as it ravages your mind, reducing your sanity to rubble.
When something is instrumentally heavy, it could be one of a million different things. It could be a quick-and-pissed hardcore anthem, or a low, dismal display of downtempo deathcore with beats per minute in the single digits—or anything in between. In Methwitch’s case, it’s everything inbetween. Rotting Away is the entire spectrum of heavy music condensed into one full-length release. With drums that can blast-beat faster than machine gun fire, or drag knives slowly down the listener’s back—and guitars that follow suit with either cunning shred or crushing chugs—Rotting Away isn’t one kind of heavy—it’s just heavy. With Cameron McBride as the band’s mastermind, no holds are barred and no stone is left un-chucked at the listener’s head. “Summon” starts with a scare and only gets more horrifying—regressing from dirging, funeral-doom atmosphere to dismal, depressive downtempo deathcore like a candle melting down to the stump. Meanwhile, the very next track, “Immoral Intent” is a blast-beaten-to-death anthem that sounds almost like The Black Dahlia Murder and Acrania’s bastard child. On McBride’s faster efforts, his instrumentation is relentless: sharp enough to cut the listener’s skin cleanly, but infectious enough to fester in the listener’s bloodstream (and eventually their mind). “Pulling Teeth” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes” are examples of McBride’s more moderate pace, combining steamroller, snail’s-pace breakdowns with driving, fierce hardcore-styled verses, giving the listener an immense, over-the-top The Acacia Strain effect—if The Acacia Strain were coated in two tons of toxic sludge. Instrumentally, Methwitch is a project that borrows ideas and influences from an entire spectrum of metallic styles (with the title track sounding like a black metal band covering a Slipknot track, in the best way possible), but adding a uniquely evil and depressive sheen to each one, making it one of the most oppressive albums to ever grace the heavy music scene.
With Rotting Away’s instrumental canvas covering fifty shades of gory, gutwrenching heaviness, one might expect there to be less emphasis placed on the album’s vocal effort. If you thought that, you would be wrong. McBride’s vocal work under the Methwitch pseudonym is nothing short of breath taking. When big-name bands like The Acacia Strain and Acrania get tossed around, it isn’t just in reference to the instrumental styles McBride makes use of throughout Rotting Away. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” sounds like it might have a guest part from Vincent Bennett himself (spoiler: it doesn’t), and parts of the death-grind dynamo “Immoral Intent” sound like the Frankenstein offspring of Dickie Allen and Luke Griffin roaring into the microphone. McBride hits surreal highs and sinister lows with reckless abandon, spanning his vocal range across any and all styles of screams, shouts and shrieks that the listener can imagine, making Methwitch a truly ear-splitting release.
Perhaps heavy isn’t the right word to describe Rotting Away. Make no mistake—there are breakdowns, slams, beatdowns and any other neck-snapping musical climax the modern heavy music fanatic could dream of—but Methwitch doesn’t end there. Even at his lightest, McBride delights in melting even the slightest glimmer of positivity and happiness. The bone-busting breakdowns in “Stigmata” and “Guillotine” bury any inkling of ethereality Rotting Away might have had. Even the brief “Meth Lab Stomp” is scalding and intense. And if you think things might get lighter towards the end, “Shallow Grave Deity” and “237” do an expert job at annihilating that notion.
In the end, Methwitch is evil—pure, uncompromising evil—nothing more, nothing less, just as there is nothing more any breakdown-loving, crowdkilling, slam-craving aficionado could ask.
For Fans Of: The Acacia Strain, Whitechapel, Plague Widow, The Black Dahlia Murder, Acrania