Review: Witchaven – Sacrificial Burnt Offering EP [9.5 out of 10]

By Andrew Bansal

Witchaven is a blackened thrash metal band that has been around in the LA underground scene since 2006. Through sheer hard work and dedication, they have steadily risen in stature, venturing outside of LA and appearing at high-profile events like SXSW and Maryland Deathfest. They released their debut full-length “Terrorstorm” in 2010, and as a follow-up to that, their new 7-inch titled “Sacrificial Burnt Offering” was released a couple of days ago, on Friday the 13th.

Morbid Reality Records is putting out this limited edition EP as a black 7-inch which was sold only at Witchaven’s record release show at the Handbag Factory and at the Gathering Of The Bestial Legion festival last night. It is also being released on white vinyl with two bonus cover tunes. Only 100 copies of each version have been pressed, and fortunately I got hold of the black vinyl at last night’s show.

The 3-song EP starts off with “Supermax” as the first track on Side A. Vocalist/guitarist Henry Montoya’s lays down his customary earsplitting vocals, and combines well with lead guitarist Erik Sneve for some scorching guitar work. The song certainly has the blackened thrash element that is typical of Witchaven, but I would say it’s a very progressive track which varies from the signature Witchaven sound to a straight-up black metal section, and ends with a purely virtuosic guitar solo. This song alone is worth the price of this EP, and goes a long way towards showcasing the band’s skilled musicianship.

“Product Of Imprisonment” is a short tune that focuses more on Henry’s vocals and the solidity of the guitar riffs. The rhythm section of Jorge on bass and Lerby on drums is also more prominent on this one. After the epic “Supermax”, this compact and intense tune is a fitting follow-up and should catch on quite quickly among listeners.

“Skinned Alive” is the sole track on Side B, and everything about it screams pure evil. It concisely portrays the menace that you expect to hear in a tune when you see the words “Skinned Alive” associated with it. This should be a great live song, one that will induce violent circle pits wherever and whenever it’s played.

“Sacrificial Burnt Offering” is just a small representation of where the guys in Witchaven stand in their musical journey. Their music has become darker and more intricate when compared to the debut full-length, and this EP will only enhance their reputation in the underground metal circles as that of a band rapidly progressing towards attaining their creative peak.

Besides the music itself, Witchaven and Morbid Reality Records have done a great job with the final product. It captures the band’s raw aggression as well as their technically proficient lead guitar work, and does equal justice to both aspects. In essence, the vinyl is a perfect replication of the band’s live sound, which is exactly how it should be.

I can never give an EP a perfect 10 rating, unless it’s a grindcore EP which is supposed to be super-short, because a 3-song EP like this always leaves me hungry for more, and thus can never fully satisfy my needs. But other than that, Witchaven’s “Sacrificial Burnt Offering” is a compelling piece of music that should garner widespread and unanimous appreciation from everyone who listens to it.

Rating: 9.5/10

US Release Date: January 13th 2012
Label: Morbid Reality Records

Track Listing:
Side A:
1. Supermax
2. Product Of Imprisonment
Side B:
3. Skinned Alive