Witchmaster have always incorporated punk and hardcore into their black metal. In the past, their approach has been rawer, occupying a middle ground between grindcore, d-beat, and thrash. On Trücizna (Ibex Moon, 2009), their first album in five years, they've opted for cleaner production and brought rock 'n' roll elements to the front.

Total Annihilation
Two-Point Suicide

Yet the results don't feel sanitary. The surf riff at the beginning of "Total Annihilation," for example, is cool enough for sunglasses, but the feedback solo that chases it sounds desolate. Rock music is usually about community. Hearing desolation in a rock song is like staring at a half-demolished building. The vocals sound as if they're belted through a megaphone, and offer no help. You're born to lose.

Perversely, the same production also reveals how accomplished Witchmaster's instrumentation is. Listen to how the drummer hacks up fills on "Two-Point Suicide." He actually plays instead of just banging out rhythms. All the instruments are like that, and if you told me that cold, I'd expect to hate it. I can appreciate skillful playing in metal, but in punk I want grit. Here, grit and skill complement each other. It's a combination rarely done this well, in any genre.

- Anthony Abboreno

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