Review Summary: The cults of Satan and the mysteries of the dead...
2017 was an excellent year for black metal and the Hellenic black metal scene in particular with great releases whether it be from bands like Cult of Eibon or Caedes Cruenta. However, there was one Greek black metal act from 2017 that made one of the most distinctive releases from the genre I heard last year and that was Wampyrinacht.
"We Will Be Watching..." is the first studio full length to be released by the band and the first set of music that it has released since their EP, "The Cloven Hoof", in 1998. That is a long time and one that sparked both interest as to not having heard of the band until just last year despite being quite into Hellenic black metal and concern due to the lack of material under Wampyrinacht's name for almost two decades; wondering whether or not it would be any good if took this long to come out. Well, it turned out that patience was indeed a virtue for the duo that made up the band, Necrolord and Mantus, because this turned out to be a great album.
The first thing that immediately struck me the moment the first track begun was the beautifully-executed integration of neoclassicism into the guitarwork that was paired to varied phrasing and intense riffing, summoning a form of dark grandiosity that is usually composed by symphonic black metal acts who use a lot of keyboard sequences. Wampyrinacht eschews from that path, choosing instead to add keys sparingly at opportune moments to initiate a greater climax (and general ambiance) while having the guitarwork display the composition before the listener with majestic guitar harmonies and exhilarating tempo changes that ensure that there is never a dull moment. This goes without mentioning the excellent and perfectly placed guitar solos that take place throughout, locking appropriately into the long-form composition that "We Will Be Watching..." consists of in both technique and mood. The guitar is certainly the primary instrument that carries this album in substance and it does so to superb effect.
Upon further listening, what is also commendable is the drumming and vocal performance. The drum patterns and fills that occur are planned well and help accentuate the energetic riffs, making the varies twists on the album (at the end of the first track, Under the Ruined Bridge, for example) all the more gripping. Warhead, the session drummer on this album, even knows when to dial back the intensity when there is a particularly somber or contemplative section and appropriately integrates a beat fitting for a funeral march to complete a more sorrowful aura where needed. I searched for points where I felt that the drumming may have felt phoned in but no particular part of Warhead's performance nor any part of the composition itself when it came to the drumming felt lazy. The vocals (who are performed by Necrolord, as well as the guitar and bass) are well-executed. They add some morbid textures to the sound which helps make the album more immersive and are never grating on the nerves. They are used less often than one may initially think but on multiple listens, I'd say that given how much effort goes elsewhere and the good execution of the vocals overall; I cannot really fault the album for there being lengthier sections without them.
The production itself also has no real issues either. It manages to strike a balance between being clear enough to make all the instruments clear which is an important aspect for this band and it's nowhere near to the point of being so sanitized to the point of making the album sound completely toothless. It may not be the kind of "necro" production that a lot of black metal is known for but it's ultimately appropriate for "We Will Be Watching...".
Given the long span of time that has passed since this band released material prior to this full-length and the generally obscure nature of the band in general, I'd readily recommend this not only to black metal fans but to fans of metal in general. It blindsided me when I heard it last year and it still remains one of those ambitious highlights of that year that I'd tell anyone to listen to at least once. Perhaps there will be more from this band in the future. After this, I certainly know that I will be watching.