Hailing from Portland, Oregon, just last year did WITCHBONES form but soon began an onslaught of dark ‘n’ devastating short-lengths. At the beginning of 2019 alone, mainman Vardlokker released two EPs a month apart – Akasha and Entropy Rite, respectively, through WITCHBONES’ Bandcamp – and right behind it, the aptly titled debut album We Haunt Ourselves. More momentum continued with the Akasha II The Lost Demos compilation and then another EP, The Mirror Effect, slated for Halloween.
But, like a man possessed, Vardlokker aligns himself with IRON BONEHEAD to unleash WITCHBONES’ densest and most penetrating recording yet, The Seas of Draugen. Like its aquatic, mythological namesake, here does Vardlokker drown the listener in wave after wave of shuddering, shivering horror that looks and sounds and feels very much like familiar bestial black/death, but is instead uniquely imbued with a wandering, amorphous atmosphere that creates a truly unsettling tension. Crushing but cast away, doomed to solitude and one’s own internal destruction, the literally massive, ever-so-slowly-roiling maelstrom WITCHBONES conjures forth is echoed within the thematic arc of The Seas of Draugen itself: setting sail with “The Nun Collector,” taking in a “Nebulous Ghost Ship” later on, and sending that listener to the torrid depths, that veritable Davy Jones’ Locker of the soul & spirit, with the concluding trifecta of “The Ritual Continues (We Haunt Ourselves),” “At the Shores (Draugen’s Revenge),” and “The Candle Burns Alone (Dead Sailors).”
Smothered by the sea, ravaged by bestial frequency, DOOM assuredly and austerely spelled out either way, WITCHBONES commits you to the gravest depths of The Seas of Draugen.