by S. Winters
Ahvalen esen Clauneck kiar.
This is the enn, or summoning chant, of the goetic demon of wealth Clauneck. One-person extreme metal project Methwitch’s third full-length album Indwell opens with these words. As far as the record is concerned, this demonic invocation opens a gateway to hell, both sonically and lyrically. Cameron McBride, the multi-instrumentalist mastermind behind Methwitch, has created one of the most terrifying and experimental albums of 2020, and as listeners, we can only look on in perverse fascination as Indwell unfolds.
Indwell tells the story of a wealth-obsessed person who tries to summon Clauneck to gain his vast riches. Because of this person’s selfish and impure motives, they instead breach the barrier between the physical realm and the spiritual, and a host of malicious demons pours forth (“Uninvited Guests”). The protagonist is then tormented by their violent possession. Each track provides further horrifying description of the torture this unwitting victim suffers. “Teeth Like Nails”, which features vocals from Alex Sterling (ex-Eat A Helicopter), speaks of razor-sharp teeth puncturing the protagonist’s skin and injecting venom. A couple songs later, our victim tries to escape by pulling out a gun and shooting their brains out, only for the demons to force the brains back inside their head. The protagonist even drinks a gasoline cocktail and sets themself on fire, desperate to banish the evil spirits. There is no happy ending to the macabre tale: during “Exhale: Last Breath”, the ravaged sufferer capitulates to the demons’ bidding. “I will let you stay—just take the pain away. I surrender myself—just save me from this fucking hell.” Many a time does our frantic victim cry out to God for deliverance, but He never answers. In the world of Indwell, God has turned His back on the central character. There is no salvation. There is no hope.
Only a very particular musical style could be used to effectively communicate such a bleak tale, and Cameron McBride has absolutely nailed it on Indwell. Since its birth, Methwitch’s music has been a saw-toothed combination of death metal and hardcore, with each release branching out just a bit further than the last towards the avant-garde. On this new album, the grinding fury of Piss (the band’s sophomore effort) is still present, along with the welcome addition of angular, Psyopus-inspired guitar riffs and grating noise components. Even more remarkably, a few of Indwell’s tracks travel into alternative metal territory, providing the audience with a short rest from the album’s otherwise breakneck pace. Each song is musically unique and fits seamlessly into the overarching narrative of the album. The record itself sound sharp and rich, but it doesn’t fall into the trap of overproduction. Fuzz and feedback from a variety of objects (for instance, power tools and a tape measure on “Burn Victim”) play a vital role in the distinctive, overpowering environment of Indwell. Its beauty is found in its brutality.
Cameron is an extraordinarily talented instrumentalist and vocalist, and Indwell is a testament to his dedication to his craft. The vocal range on display is nothing short of astonishing. Gravelly lows, enraged mid-pitched yells, shrieking highs, and clean singing all feature prominently on this album. We’ve been used to McBride’s pissed-off lows and mids, as his previous Methwitch material has focused more on these tones. However, in contrast to his older material, Cameron’s signature ear-piercing high screams take the lead on nearly every Indwell track. Many of the aforementioned demons’ lines of dialogue are voiced in the highest-pitched scream imaginable, while the anguished cries of their victim are often yelled. This vocal interplay allows for even greater immersion as we follow the story. The bass McBride plays on this record is tuned so low that it’s nearly inaudible, but it provides essential underlying support to the off-kilter guitar work. Speaking of which, the guitar playing heard on Indwell is both technically impressive and musically enjoyable. Minor seconds and diminished chords are frequently employed, weaving a disharmonic tapestry which accompanies the lyrical content. Like on previous releases, the drums are programmed, and the samples used are dynamic and natural. A few songs also feature live percussion by Cameron. Altogether, Indwell’s instrumental execution is beyond reproach, and the selected tones for each instrument complements the others.
Indwell may be one of the most legitimately demonic records ever released. Even the darkly disturbing cover artwork and self-imposed Parental Advisory label can’t possibly prepare a listener for the abject horror they will encounter within the album. Don’t listen to Indwell at night if you can help it—unless you like being frightened by every fleeting shadow in your bedroom.
Methwitch released Indwell independently on April 3rd, 2020. Stream it everywhere and buy it on Bandcamp: https://methwitch.bandcamp.com/album/indwell