New look, line-up and label, but also problems
Miami (Florida, U.S.) based outfit Wykked Wytch has been around for the better part of the last 16 years, and have four full-length efforts to their name but, despite the band’s history, the black/metal act still remains largely unknown, due mainly to the fact that they have undergone some serious personnel changes with every new release, which has also brought about a change of musical direction from album to album. Four years on since the release of Memories of a Dying Whore (which was released in 2008 through Perish Music), Wykked Wytch are back with an entirely revamped line-up, a new label (Goomba Music) and a new album in The Ultimate Deception. And, as expected, things have once again changed for Wykked Wytch in every conceivable way possible.
With a change of personnel (vocalist/founder Ipek and keyboardist/sampler Salvatore LoPresti are the only members to remain from the band’s line-up of four years ago, with guitarist/bassist Nate Poulson and guest drummer Kevin Talley rounding out the band’s current line-up), the musical direction on Wykked Wytch’s latest release has seen the band push further into the black metal side of their sound, which is more than evident in the album’s opening track Birthing The Beast. After a brief orchestrated introduction, the band makes an appearance with all guns blazing, and Ipek in particular showcases both her clean and screamed vocals to create something equally as demonic sounding as the music itself. Once the track settles down, the band showcase their ability to move between melodic symphonic black metal and heavy gothic influenced death metal, without sounding like they’re trying too hard to cover too much ground. Ipek has an impressive array of sounds to her vocal delivery, while newcomer Poulson’s addition is definitely an asset to the band’s overall sound with his neoclassical shredding and furious black metal riffing.
But for all the strengths the band demonstrated on the opening track, they falter quickly with the album’s title track The Ultimate Deception. While the song boasts some cool riffing, and Ipek delivers a scathing vocal performance throughout, the song itself is a fairly forgettable one at best, and instead reveals a trend that runs through about half of the album – strong musicianship let down by fairly average song writing.
Despised Existence is a far stronger track with its aggressive riffing, melodic solos from Poulson, hard hitting and relentless work from Talley and Ipek’s constant shifts in vocal stances throughout its duration (clean vocals, demonic shrieks and guttural growls), while Prayers of the Decapitated, Abolish the Weak and the savage attack of the closer Eyes of a Vulture represent the stronger efforts on the album.
While some of the other tracks on the album do have their moments (in particular When the Sleepers Rise and Serpents Among Us), the band don’t seem to be able to combine their instrumental skills and their song writing enough to make the songs sound memorable enough to really stand out. And as for the band’s cover of Metallica’s Fade to Black, I can’t say that Wykked Wytch have really improved on the original by emphasising on making it more extreme. It comes across as a little too cliché and clinical for my liking, and is easily the album’s low point.
Wykked Wytch has a lot of potential, but their song writing still needs a lot of work. As a consequence, The Ultimate Deception has some really good songs, but just as many weaker efforts, which inevitably gives the album a really patchy feel overall.