The UK-based Music for Nations label put out some pretty cool indie-metal releases in the 80’s and 90’s and its artist roster included Metallica, Godflesh, Trouble and Warrior Soul. The label shuttered in 2004 after which many of its titles become hard to find but The End Records recently secured a deal to re-release over 50 of the label’s titles. Physical copies of the first twelve titles were released on Jan. 31st.
The first title that I picked up off this new stack of releases is the third release by blackened Swedish thrash band Witchery, Symphony for the Devil (originally released in 2001). At the time, Witchery consisted of x-Satanic Slaughter members Jensen (guitar), Richard Corpse (guitar) and Toxine (vocals); x-Opeth drummer Martin” Axe” Axenrot and Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy, Mercyful Fate) on bass. As Witchery has had some long periods on inactivity, band-leader Jensen is probably best known as guitarist for The Haunted and he pulled double-duty on the 2001 US tour for this disc when Witchery opened for The Haunted.
Witchery’s music is similar to The Haunted with its melodic thrash guitar riffs being a focal point of both bands’ sound. Where the bands diverge is that Witchery’s sound is more old-school thrash (with some death metal leanings) than the “Gothenburg metal" of The Haunted. Witchery also appears to be “less serious” than The Haunted as, in addition to the band’s animated skeleton mascot, “Ben Wrangle”, Witchery’s lyrical themes deal with murder, death and other occult-themes and the band uses plays on words as both song and album titles: "Symphony for the Devil", "Hearse of the Pharaohs", etc . Vocalist Toxine sings with a hoarse and evil rasp (and only stays with a ‘pure’ death metal growl on “Storm”) so most of the melodies come from the interplay of Richard Corpse expressive solos and Jensen’s thrashing riffs.
There is a mix of styles on this disc which are all built around the band’s riff-oriented thrash core and the fourteen tracks on Symphony for the Devil include two instrumentals and two covers from the first Satanic Slaughter album (which were bonus tracks on some pressings of the original release of this disc). In an interview with Metal Rules, Jensen described the band’s creative process as a “’We don't give a shit’ mentality. We play exactly what we want; Black/Thrash/Heavy or even Death metal songs.” Special guest on the disc include Johan Larsson (Séance vocalist) and Hank Sherman, guitarist for Mercyful Fate.