A Grim Apparition
Heaven and Hell Records
12/16/2009 - Review by: Raising Iron
Texas' underground metal scene has always harkened toward the ideals of Norway's legendary black metal scene in that band members are often doing double-duty for multiple bands, changing positions as often as a Las Vegas call-girl, doing business whenever and wherever one can get the work, and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it; hence we have another amalgam of Lone Starry-eyed metalheads out of Austin, Witches Mark.
Forming in 2005, the Texan sextet cull from several different area acts, most notably Ancient Cross and Of the Fallen; the singer Michael Lance having even filled in on vocal duties for a brief stint after the passing of David Wayne for the renowned Reverend. Now in 2009, they've released their debut – albeit an EP – but still, it's great to finally have the group's old-school traditional ideals stain more than just the digital bits and bytes on their MySpace player, as the release of an actual hard disc with accompanying artwork still carries with it a sense of self-accomplishment.
What you get with A Grim Apparition are blood, sweat, and tear-drenched ghosts soaked in mid-80's nostalgia. Yes, the current thrust of no-frills heavy metal continues to bubble and toil beneath the surface of this nation's more popular groove-core exports, but for the discerning headbanger that's a good thing, as there seems to be no limit to the supply of these bands, all offering up their individual takes on our fathers' stamp in the heavy metal history books.
Traveling back in time to California's Tyrant and Omen via Manilla Road, Witches Mark offer up a scintillating concoction that awakens your memories of the golden age of the underground, its aroma curling up from their dank dungeon to light your senses with recollections of past deviances long-forgotten behind the doors of time. Of the four original brews, all but one clock in at over six minutes, and they all are obviously crafted with love, each offering itself up as a stand-alone delectable. The only non-essential song is a repeat of the title track in demo version following the main platter, found to be almost identical in construct and much cruder. But making up for that we get two covers, the first by one of the greatest metal bands to have ever plodded out of Sweden and into the hearts of doom-lovers everywhere; yes Candlemass, and the stellar "Solitude"; no liberties taken here, just a faithful recreation of the mighty slab with maybe a tad more speed. To close out the EP is an Angel Witch cover, and notably one NOT from the band's famous debut or (to a lesser extent) the follow-up Screamin' and Bleedin', but rather from their oft-forgotten Frontal Assault album from 1986. It's "Something Wrong" and it's a righteous choice from the NWOBHM figures of old; again, played as it was heard so long ago, and with the hopes of enlightening newly branded metalheads to the hidden treasures of yore.
So there you have it, another cauldron-born (reference intentional!) Texas output and one I'm looking forward to hearing more from, so let's hope this EP will eventually lead to a full-length; keeping the torches lit for subterranean dwellers everywhere.
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