Artist: Postcards From New Zealand
Album Title: Burn, Witch, Burn
Label: Independent Release
Date of Release: 15 April 2022
I knew literally nothing about Postcards From New Zealand (PFNZ) coming into this review. And, truth be told, despite undertaking as much research as I was reasonably able to do, I still know sod all about them. Apparently, that’s entirely deliberate on the part of the band, but it does make it impossible for us reviewers to regale you with sexy facts about the artist to provide context and to show off about our knowledge. Damn you.
But importantly, when looking through my inbox of promos, the name stood out. For a start, New Zealand is at the very top of my bucket list of destinations. Having clicked on the email, I was then further interested by the dark cover artwork. Reading on, it became clear that here was a band that wanted to stretch, to experiment, to challenge. Apparently, ‘Burn, Witch, Burn’ is the first part of a trilogy, and it seeks to open the door to new experimentation from PFNZ, incorporating elements of black metal, doom, sludge, and whatever else they wish to throw at us.
Of the thematic content of this record, the press release offers the following:
“’Burn, Witch, Burn’ explores humanity’s hatred, how it grows out of fear for the unknown that leads to acts of destruction even against one’s own kind. Focusing on discrimination towards women but also of women and men turning against each other in through the spread of hatred.”
It’s a very laudable topic upon which to focus, but with song titles like ‘Soccer Mum’, ‘Holy Bazongas’, and ‘Who’s Wearing Pants’, I have to wonder how serious this group of musicians is, or whether the songs are so named to be deliberately provocative.
To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t matter all that much because the music on his album is damn-near unlistenable. The main reason for this is the production. I’m certain that the sound on this album is absolutely deliberate, but for my tastes, it’s awful. Muddy, distant, and ugly, it means that various instruments are missing in action at times, albeit not always the bass which is unusual. The vocals are nasty, venomous, and guttural, not dissimilar to some grindcore bands, but when they come in, the rest of the music threatens to be overrun, retreating for cover somewhere in the back of the speakers, cowering.
Admittedly, the half-hour or so of music does try its hand at covering a multitude of extreme metal styles but having spent as much time with it as I could bear, I have to say that this is really not the kind of music that I like. I love heavy, spiteful, and spikey music, but I need something else to run alongside it. Here, there’s nothing but spite; we have dissonance, we have vitriol, we have cold and impenetrable, but there’s not even a single nod to anything approaching groove, or melody, even if the latter were to be twisted and evil.
The opener, ‘Who’s Wearing Pants’ comes out of the bowels of hell in a flurry of black metal intensity, but you can barely hear any of the nuances within the music such is the muddiness of the mix. It’s intense and threatening, but it isn’t much else. It only lasts for 88 seconds, but every one of those seconds sounds much the same to me.
‘On A Silver Plate’ is better, in that it is at a slower, more lumbering tempo, allowing a little more musicality to seep through. What you can hear is dissonant and unfriendly, but ironically, I like it better than the opener and much of what follows. ‘Pill Fight’ lurches uncomfortably in an odd time signature, complete with weird, muffled sounds and pinched harmonics to increase the aural discomfort.
I would try to write more about ‘Burn, Witch, Burn’, but it’d just be a blow-by-blow description of why I don’t like it. And that helps no-one. Instead, in a concerted effort to end this review on a constructive note, I’ll suggest that Postcards From New Zealand have crafted a record that will test even the most masochistic of metal fans. If that sounds like a challenge, then go for it, and take a listen. In fact, I urge you to do just that. It may be that you like this music a lot more than I do or, at the very least, are able to appreciate what this anonymous group of musicians have tried to create here. For me though, it’s a no, I’m afraid.
The Score of Much Metal: 55%
Sorry, no track to embed!
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: