Although they only released a few demos and a 12” EP during the band’s original period of activity (1984-1990), Witches Hammer occupy a prominent place among the pantheon of Canadian blackened speed/thrash metal masters. Still, making us wait 36 years for a debut full length album is pushing your luck but we’re happy to say that Damnation Is My Salvation is a fuckin’ revelation!
With no real desire to deliver a modern sounding album, Damnation Is My Salvation simply rewinds back the clock to extreme metal’s infancy and lets rip with all manner of blackly thrashing, proto-death metal rage.
Gloriously lo-fi, raw and feral, Witches Hammer sound as if they’ve barely aged a day since those halcyon days of discovery back in the mid 1980’s and it’s to their credit that they sound this vital, vigorous and downright vicious, decades after they’d originally called it quits.
Opener “Across Azeroth” quickly endears itself through sheer aggression and bug-eyed mania before “Solar Winds” takes early Morbid Angel-esque patterns and tremolo-riffing and raises the bar even higher. This standard is set for the duration too, with Damnation Is My Salvation delivering devilish and diabolical odes to all things meal with wanton abandon.
The greatest compliment we can give is that Witches Hammer have graced us with an album that feels like its been with us for over 30 years. Not overly-familiar per se but convincingly nostalgic enough (and so well composed) that you could file it next to Possessed’s Seven Churches, Celtic Frost’s Morbid Tales and Destruction’s Infernal Overkill without batting an eye-lid.
Incidentally, album closer “Nine Pillars” is a tour de force of barbaric, turbulent, arcane noise; the kind of ferocious blackened attack which practically screams ‘we’re more evil than you’ in your petrified face. It’s fuckin’ brilliant for want of a better analogy.
First and foremost, Damnation Is My Salvation is one hell of a comeback and a welcome surprise that we did not see coming! 8/10
Damnation Is My Salvation
Nuclear War Now! Productions
Released: 25th April 2020