With an illustrious career of more than 15 years, Wykked Wytch has slowly garnered a steady following, with their previous albums each garnering pretty stellar reviews. This year sees the band releasing their follow up to 2008's Memories of a Dying Whore in the form of The Ultimate Deception, and seeing how the band has often been described as a fusion of black and gothic metal has certainly got me slightly interested in the music.
The usage of symphonic elements in black metal has never been extremely appealing with me, with most bands butchering the usage, ending up with albums that sound totally pretentious, and unable to really perform live. Album opener Birthing the Beast introduces the album to the listener through a symphonic intro, allowing the music to slowly build up the climax and fortunately, up to the start of the song proper, this does not disappoint and lead to any awkwardness. But it does not take long for the band to really go into full speed, with band mastermind Ipek displaying her vocal abilities through the layering of clean vocals on top of her growls, providing a somewhat haunting effect on the music. She also experiments with various different vocal styles, with times where she uses an almost-spoken style of vocals and while her attempt to include interesting sounds is commendable, at times they do sound off, bringing down the quality of the album slightly and almost makes the songs sound core-ish. Her growls and shrieks though, are powerful, as can be heard on tracks like The Ultimate Deception where she transits between black metal styled shrieks to brutal death metal deep, throaty growls with ease.
The music itself though, for the most part, sounds powerful (partially thanks to the excellent production job of the album), with guitarist Nate displaying his versatility through the different styles of playing, and this is evident right from the opening track Birthing the Beast, which itself contains numerous different styles, ranging from furious black metal-styled trem-picking to melodic death metal-inspired riffs to almost neo-classical influenced shredding on the solo. And of course, this is topped by the powerful battery by guest drummer Kevin Talley, with his relentless and consistent pounding on the skins, and moments on the album that are punctuated by the stellar display of his technical capabilities on his kit.
Apart from the technical aspects of the songs, the band also manages to express their emotions accordingly throughout the album, and the number of influences that they have put into the writing of the album has managed to shine through, with no two tracks on the album sounding the same. Songs like Serpents Among Us, despite having an aggressive start, also take a slow down with the melodic solo by guitarist Nate. Unfortunately though, there are some influences of the band that have been included that drag down the album, with the breakdown riffs on Serpents Among Us right after the inspiring guitar solo, tearing down the impressions that have been built up so far, and moments such as these are littered throughout the album, often spoiling what could have been potentially beautiful moments.Songs like When the Sleepers Rise also suffer from having a weak song structure, with awkward transitions between verses and choruses, resulting in tracks like these being unmemorable, leaving no lasting memories on the listener.
There is also the inclusion of a symphonic/gothic metal rendition of Metallica's ballad, Fade to Black on the album as well, but unlike the many covers that I enjoy, Wkyyed Wytch managed to totally butcher the song, making one of my favourite Metallica ballads sound so vastly different from the original, leaving out much of the original intention and feel of the song. My main gripe with the cover is that you DO NOT spam a ballad with blast beats. I know Kevin Talley is good at what he does, but this just leaves out the entire point of a fucking ballad! The shift between shrieks and clean vocals also gets irritating and sounds out of place, and would have benefited if Ipek had chosen to sticking to only a single style. Furthermore, the sudden shift to growling after the first 2 verses immediately reeks of metalcore, with the bastardised version of Dio's Holy Diver by Killswitch Engage brought to mind instantly.
Wykked Wytch's The Ultimate Deception has done nothing with me. To be honest, the album does sound good with the production quality and the abilities of the individual musicians on the recording, but unfortunately suffers from inconsistency and lack of memorable moments. Oh, and also from spoiling one of the few Metallica songs that I actually like.
Originally written for http://www.heavymetaltribune.com/