Thursday, 20 February 2014

Extreme Thursday: Wykked Wytch

From the bleak misery that is Thursday comes a fresh dose of Extremity, this week in the form of Florida's Wykked Wytch. Having been around for 20 years and having released 5 full length albums, this is a band not stuck in its rut and melds black, death and thrash metal with gothic imagery and aggressive melodies.

It would be fair to say that band is as much a vehicle for its terrifying frontwoman Ipek, the founding and only remaining original member. Driving the band through many fortunes, Ipek has used her unending aggression and drive as well as her trademark black metal screams and death metal growls to great effect.

Originally formed in 1994, Wykked Wytch put out their critically acclaimed debut Something Wykked This Way Comes in 1996. This album featured the core of the bands sound that largely remains today. It was received so well that it was picked up by Demolition Records after Milwaukee Metalfest 1999 along with the offer of a tour supporting Napalm Death.

Unfortunately this offer and Ipek's drive to take the band farther and wider didn't sit well with the rest of the band who promptly quit. Citing career and family coming before band activities, this left Ipek alone and angry. The second album, Angelic Vengeance, was released in 2001 and contains some glimpses (e.g. Forgiveness Denied) into the mind of the furious frontwoman.

This second album was louder, altogether better produced, and gave a fuller feel for Ipek's vision for the band. Taking on a more death metal sound, although maintaining the primarily black metal vocal, Angelic Vengeance is seven tracks of concentrated fury and aggression.

After a successful tour of the second album, work continued on new material toward a third. Collaborating with guitarist Gio Geraca, the album was released again on Demolition in 2004. Featuring heavier riffs, faster blastbeats and a deeper growl, the album continued to refine the band's sound while also expanding it, mixing in some cleaner parts, even verging on the operatic, to give the songs texture, contrast and impact.

Things started head south a little for Wykked Wytch after album number three with a short lived deal with SixSixSix Records. The departure from their new label left them to finance the new album themselves, and they ended up touring for a while to gather funds and maintain momentum. Thankfully, after a short US tour, Perish Music stepped in and Memories Of A Dying Whore was finally released in 2007.

The band's history goes a bit dark after this. There are interviews and bios, chatter and mentions, and all I can glean is that at some point Wykked Wytch left Perish Music and joined Goomba. Nate Poulson joined on guitar and joint songwriting duty, and between he and Ipek a new album, The Ultimate Deception, was released in 2012.

Featuring a much thicker, fuller death metal sound than earlier albums, the new album takes Wykked Wytch's sound in a new direction. Moving away from the lo-fi black metal of old, there are dense, layered arrangements of overlapping, often contradictory melodies, riffs and blasts. In fact, the layering of the three or four vocal styles make it sound like there are a whole troupe of vocalists jumping in and out, but in fact there continues to only be Ipek and her ludicrous range.

Along with the five albums, the band have also had a bit of fun with covers. Most notably they have a version of Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams and a rather unique interpretation of Evanesence's Bring Me To Life. Have a listen.

Not content to rest on their laurels, the band are out and gigging. Recently Ipek posted a rather enigmatic request for guitarists on Facebook for a "new project". Whatever is happening in the world of Wykked Wytch, you can guarantee it'll be bigger, louder and more extreme than before. And if you're bored while awaiting news, why not spice up your food life in the interim with (to my knowledge) the only metal-vocalist-inspired hot sauce in the world?