WTCHS: It’s Not a Curse, It’s a Cross!
WTCHS: It’s Not a Curse, it’s a Cross! – Is it improper to look beyond an EP to the live show it represents? Not that It’s Not a Curse, It’s a Cross! is a bad release, it’s just a case of animals able to be animals only in the wild. WTCHS by now have quite a following in Hamilton, Ontario, for their doom-swamp live shows, all turbid with gnashing riffs, dynamic percussion that slave-drives the Salem parade along and vocals like Tom O’Bedlam howling in a sandstorm. Judging what I may from videos, the stage is certainly their natural habitat at this point, and I’m taking the EP as one would a travel pamphlet to a DMZ: quite informative, but incomplete without extrapolation.
There were a couple clues leading me to look beyond the wax release. For one thing, there’s the absolutely glowing live reviews of the group going around, and for another, there’s a weird but not unpleasant mash of misanthropic post-punk with Modest Mouse-type angularity (damn that word, but as Modest Mouse is the poster child for it, I’ll use it here). The opener ‘Young Girls’ is certainly the shaggy, moss-haired beast I keep reading about, all tectonic bass drum and the mad blizzard shrieks. But then there are moments in ‘Top Prize’ where the dissonance takes on a lighter feel, reminding me of mid-2000s indie acts like Bloc Party, or even Franz Ferdinand. Before fans crucify me – these are just fleeting moments. In fact, it’s a damned interesting spice to their type of aggression, these moments of levity, like flashes of human remembrance in a werewolf. But fear not, noise fiends: there’s always a return to chaotic terrain, as in the battling, twanging plucks of ‘Top Prize’ and the volcanic haze of closer ‘Nell’, probably the high point of the album for me. The spastic interludes where the riffs break and loop atop sliding yelps, these are sound injections.
For those wanting some breadth to go with their dreary post-punk jams, WTCHS are definitely a group to keep on your Twitter and Songkick. If nothing else, the sound reminds me of the witch-prophecy in MacBeth, a doom that falls surely as rain. Check out It’s Not a Curse and the slew of other excellent recordings on their bandcamp…8.1/10