Album: Shadowkeeper – EP
Darkness gives rise to the things we fear most. As humans, it is in our nature to have a twisted relationship with things we cannot comprehend—we fear them, instinctively—however we also have a bizarre fascination with them. We are drawn to the mysteries that lurk in shadows, hellbent on discovering just what it is that we’re so afraid of.
The answer lies in the haunting, hellish heaviness that belongs to none other than Methwitch.
The solo project of New Mexico-based multitalented musician Cameron McBride, Methwitch is the crushing, creepy product of our deepest fears come to life. While his debut EP, Rotting Away was masterful in its own way, McBride’s second offering under the Methwitch nom-de-guerre is a conceptually driven masterpiece. Sounding like equal parts Varials, Dark Throne, Ingested and The Acacia Strain, Shadowkeeper slams, blasts, riffs and chugs its way into the listener’s head, destroying every positive thought and replacing it with brooding, bitter darkness.
Instrumentally, Methwitch borrows from heavily slam-influenced deathcore and blends it with pieces of punchy climax borrowed from beatdown hardcore and haunting, atmospheric and eerie riffs a la black metal. McBride builds everything atop a foundation of finely programmed percussion—keeping everything well within the boundaries defined by realistic drumming—and adds buckets of beefy, thick bass. As dark and murky as an ocean of oil, Shadowkeeper’s low end lures the listener in, with spine-snapping slams in “Intelligent Spirits” and “Portals,” yet adhering to moments of traditional, metallic hardcore heaviness in “Poltergeists.” When McBride isn’t murdering listeners with blunt force trauma inducing breakdowns and slams, he is (almost literally) scaring the daylight out of them with ethereal fretwork and airy, huge percussion as heard in “Residual Manifestations.” McBride uses these moments to contrast his blast-beat laden, riff-fueled verses, keeping the listener on the edge of their seat and constantly fearing what lies in wait around each twisting, turning fill.
Rotting Away proved that McBride was several steps ahead of most solo projects with the fact that he was—and still is—a very competent vocalist, despite his excellent instrumentation. Where Methwitch’s debut saw McBride sticking to his comfort zone, Shadowkeeper sees him taking on new ranges and speeds, embracing his innermost darkness to channel pure putridity in the form of vocal excellence. Even if McBride was an average vocalist, the sheer quantity and quality of guest vocalists on Shadowkeeper would make it a spectacle. Featuring Cody Ragan and JL Luzietti (heard killing it on Drowning’s latest effort, as well as his own band, RUSE), McBride’s choice of guest vocalists and the subsequent execution of their parts deserves praise in itself. The take-away is simple: McBride mirrors his musical diversity with masterful vocal talent—and those who are skeptical will quickly become believes by the time “Poltergeists” is through.
Shadowkeeper is one of the most thoroughly evil and hate-filled releases since The Acacia Strain’s Continent, from its concept to its near-flawless execution. Perfectly synchronized instrumentation works in punctual syngery to punish the listener from start to finish, while McBride (and his posse) unleash tortured, painful screams that light the listener’s eardrums afire—finished off with a slightly gritty, raw mix and master to add depth to the EP’s blackened element. Shadowkeeper should come with a warning: those who already fear darkness should look no further into this release, as even the most hard-hearted will emerge broken and mangled.
For Fans Of: Varials, Ingested, Drowning, Acrania, The Acacia Strain, XisforEyes, Dark Throne
By: Connor Welsh