This is one of those premieres which starts with a warning. The below album is not an easy, light, or joyful piece of music. For those familiar with Rorcal and their black/doom/experimental explorations, this should come as no surprise. But even for veterans of the group’s sound, this new release should push quite a few envelopes. On Witch Coven, Rorcal have teamed up with Earthflesh, a harsh noise project spearheader by the band’s former bassist. The result of this infernal collaboration is one of the most oppressive, abrasive, and downright misanthropic releases I’ve heard in a while. Unlike a lot of the derivative entries in these aesthetic spaces, Witch Coven also manages to be extremely interesting and unique, bringing Rorcal’s vision to a blacklight drenched fruition that’s been long in the making. Head down below to stream it in full; hold on to your seats.
Oof. It’s interesting to try and note where Rorcal end and Earthflesh begins but it’s a somewhat futile effort. Sure, the extremely distorted and frizzing tones can be associated with the harsh noise aspect of Earthflesh but they’re not really strangers to the Rorcal formula. This is what makes Witch Coven work so well: it’s a collaboration rather than a split, splicing the two groups’ sound into one whole that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. You can feel the joints where the big, Rorcal-esque chords merge with the noisier atmosphere, and the painful spots where the vocals transform that tension into emotion and pain. Perhaps where the groups most meet is on the conceptual level that the music attempts to channel, namely the sordid, depressing, and chaotic conditions in which most of humanity have found themselves lately. Says Rorcal:
Everything is fucked. One year ago, everything was already fucked. And let’s be honest, there is a strong chance that everything was fucked long before that. But regarding the band, last year, same period, we were fucked. All the shows planned to support our last album, Muladona, were canceled. Our appearance at Roadburn Festival was canceled. Everything was canceled. It felt like life itself was canceled.
What was there left? Writing new music. A few months before everything went to shit, our first bass player (who was playing with us until the Creon period), Bruno, had launched is harsh noise band, Earthflesh; a dream he has had for a very long time.
Soon enough, the idea to join forces on a collaborative piece of music was born. We exchanged files & ideas via the Internet, because being all in the same room was, rightly, considered dangerous. We rather quickly decided that there would be one song on which Earthflesh would be the base, and Rorcal would be on top of the sound design provided by him, and another song would be composed by the band, and Bruno would add noises & drones on it.
We recorded everything live in two days in an old house (of course in compliance with health rules). The songs were then mixed by our guitarist JP and mastered by longtime collaborator Steph Kroug. The result is Witch Coven. It is raw & violent, it is nihilistic & upfront, it is unpolished & urgent. It is a sign of the times.
And nothing will get better.
“It is a sign of the times” indeed. When listening to Witch Coven, one gets the feeling that they are being slammed with the paranoia, claustrophobia, and general malaise which has stalked our lives for more than a year and, as Rorcal have said above, probably for more than that. This is not an album that will provide you with catharsis; you won’t find much peace in recognition on it. Instead, it’s for when you want to stop facing away from things and feel the blackness that’s inside of you bubble to the surface, coating you from all directions, ears first.
Witch Coven releases on April the 2nd from the indomitable Hummus Records. You can head on over to their website to pre-order it.