On a hot summer night in New York City; Queens to be exact saw the mighty return of the one and only Karyn Crisis. She didn’t really go away anywhere, as she has continued to work and create music for years, if somewhat under the radar. While the denizens of The Big Apple might recall the death wail that was her voice at the front woman/force of nature at the helm of death metal legends Crisis in the 90s, Karyn’s new project is no less deadly, yet in different ways. The Gospel of The Witches is a different kind of brutality, one with all the shades of her soul on display. Several years in the making, The Gospel of the Witches’ album Salem’s Wounds (Century Media) seemed destined to be made by Karyn and her partner Davide Tiso (Ephel Duath). Joining them for this live performance were Ross Dolan (Immolation) Bob Vigna (Immolation), Charlie Schmid (Tombs) and Larry Burns on sound. The crowd at Blackthorn 51was enraptured by Karyn et all and their rituals, as captured here by photography Omar Cordy for Ghost Cult.
After speaking with Karyn Crisis back in April, regarding the beginnings of lifting this very special project of hers off the ground, it’s a beautiful thing to see it fully manifest into this unique occult masterpiece. From the countless hours spent, hand writing cards, creating original art work and hand crafted, bark and moss covered lyric books to thank her financial supporters, the dedication to this creative calling has been crafted into a powerful ghostly presence; an ode to the Tuscan Witch who brought her on this journey. Accompanying her are husband Davide Tiso (Ephel Duath,) guitarist and collaborator, Bob Vigna (guitar) and Ross Dolan (bass/backup vocals) from Immolation, Mike Hill of Tombs on vocals, Larry Burns (sounds) and Charlie Schmid (Vaura) on drums. Out on Century Media Records Karyn Crisis’ Gospel Of The Witches – Salem’s Wounds is set to be released March 24th, 2015.
Influenced by the elements and their omnipresence, ‘Omphalos’ approaches symbolic power in a haunting cry to the earth, seeping into the soil like to remain hidden or emerge as flame to ignite, spreading like wild fire to consume all things. “I am no one, I am nothing, I am nowhere. I am everything, I am everywhere, I am everyone,” she chants.
Back to back, tracks ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ weave the origins of the gospel of the witches together.
From a word which carries such nurturing and love, ‘Mother’ is our primordial creatrix. The goddess of the moon, Diana, is transformed into a sacrificial display of of gorgeous atmospherics and powerful growls, chased with layers of death choir backing vocals. ‘Father,’ a plea to Lucifer, god of light, emanates much brighter with it’s atmospherics, tones shimmering off of distant drum skins that hold an even tempo throughout, without lacking accession or climax, maintaining accretion of identity.
‘Pillars’ pulls apart the turmoil and blessings that bind us to our physical form, finding comfort in post-apocalyptic ruin. Angelic vocals battle those of conflict, which Tiso and Vigna’s guitar work weave through nicely to form my favourite track on the album.
Ending the ceremony with ‘The Ascent,’ slowly summiting into a luminous vortex of evocative melody and progressive guitar work. I’m sort of unsettled by the break near the end and feel like the ‘pitter patter of little feet’ sound effect sort of took away from the momentum and power this album held for me throughout but I suppose a little deviousness and trickery is called for from the witches. Salem’s Wounds succeeds summoning a voice, conveying the history behind paganism as well as Karyn’s own personal journey within, to discover her own gifts and allow her spirits to guide her, even when they may have had different plans.