Seven Doors/Goat Witch/Born Undead Split

Retching itself from the feted underbelly of the UK Death Metal scene comes three bands that will rip your guts out and leave you for dead… Asa journeys into the darkness and reviews this split album for us…

From the deepest, darkest depths of the UK comes 11 slabs of brutal, haunting and horrifying Death/Doom. Each band offers us up their own unique take on the Death Metal genre so, with so much to cover, I’m going to split this review up into 3 sections. Each section will contain a short bio, a run down of the tracks, some thoughts on the songs and production and then after I’ll do a short overview of my thoughts and feelings. So, let’s dive into the riffs and see what deathly delights these 3 acts have offered us!

First up is Seven Doors. I’ve covered these guys (well, guy) before when they released their cracking debut E.P, ‘The Gates Of Hell’, so naturally I was very excited to hear more material so soon. Seven Doors is a Death Metal project by Deadwood Lake guitar maestro, Ryan Wills. The project blends old and new Death influences and has already given us 4 pulverizing tracks of extreme Metal supremacy. The split starts in spectacular fashion, with a short film sample (taken from The Night Of The Creeps for those interested) before going into a barrage of tremolo picked riffs, blast beats and guttural bellows for ‘They’re Dead’. The riffs reek of Old School Death Metal savagery, with twisted harmonies, mid paced neckwreckers and doomy melodies. There’s some flashy guitar work during a brief solo halfway through that shows Ryan’s incredible shredding chops. It all ends with another sample that always make me chuckle. The song features a little something for everyone and is an excellent way to start things off. ‘Anthropophagus’ slows things down with gargantuan riffs, sprinkled with a little Doom for good measure. Things speed up in the mid-point to a mid-paced stomp fest that’ll get you windmilling in no time. There are a few short solos to whet the appetites of you guitar nerds out there and it’s another solo song that shows Ryan’s ability to write in different tempos but still make everything crushingly heavy. The final track from Seven Doors is ‘They Came From the Deep’, which is the exact opposite of what just came before. Instead of slow, low and heavy, we have fast, pounding and relentless. Things do eventually slow down in the middle, with hefty slamming riffs and atmospheric single note harmonies before launching back into the visceral assault and chaotic lead playing. It’s another solid piece of disgusting Death Metal that is bound to get one-man bedroom pits started. Overall, these are 3 solid tracks from Seven Doors that are just as solid as what came before. The production is of the same level, being both clean enough to hear everything but still maintaining all the dirt and grit that gives it an OSDM vibe throughout. The riffs are all killer, and the tracks don’t linger around long enough to feel tiresome. They’re just in and out, delivering us no-holds-barred Death Metal that stands tall with the greats.

Next up is Goat Witch, bringing us 4 slices of Death/Doom excellence. Goat Witch is the project of just one person, who refers to themselves as Nachtghul. The person is actually Thomas Collings who you may all know from Devastator, but I like the pseudonym so I’m going to use that instead. ‘Funeral In Your Mind’ kicks things off, with a Death ‘n’ Roll vibe and dirty production that feels very suitable for the type of music being played. The tempo shifts throughout the track, with riffs ranging from straight up Death Metal fare to Motörhead-meets-Entombed, to slower, doom-ladened riffs that are drenched in atmosphere. You even get some clean guitars about 2/3rds of the way through, in case it wasn’t already atmospheric enough. There’s some brilliant use of haunting melodies and Nachtghul’s reverb smothered roars compliment the music well. It’s another strong opening and showcases a different approach to Death Metal from the previous artist. ‘Rabid’ continues things with ferocious riffing and pummeling drums, as Nachtghul barks their ferocious roars over the top. There are some dissonant harmonies thrown in and the song slows down at the mid-section to bring us some brilliant lead work that is both impressive as it is unnerving. ‘Morningside Cemetary’ is a slower affair compared to ‘Rabid’, but the contrast does wonders for the flow of the split. There’s more ghostly melodies and a sense of dread permeates throughout the slow, sludgy riffs. We’re treated to another Horror film sample midway (taken from Phantasm) that makes the Tall Man seem more terrifying than the film does. The slow riff that follows is more upbeat in nature but has an incredible feeling of sorrow, accompanied by a slow solo that is perfect with the atmosphere. We go back to the darkness once again, paired with a repetitive lead that is both hypnotic and delightfully tense. The final offering from Goat Witch is a 10-minute opus entitled ‘Let Her Die’, a suitably unpleasant name considering the previous proceedings. It’s slow, low and despairing riffs are joined by an array of dark melodies that stir a number of uncomfortable emotions within the listener. At around the 4-minute mark, sorrowful, soaring melodies take center stage, altering the direction of the song and bringing a welcome change from the doom and despair the previous 4 minutes delivered us. Though don’t worry, those atmospheres do return after a couple of minutes to bring back those dark feelings once more. Overall, Goat Witch bring us an exercise in despair, with a variety of different influences making an appearance throughout this section of the split. There’s plenty of speed throughout the first half before the last two tracks slow things down and showcases us the power of Death/Doom. Nachtghul’s offerings bring out a vast array of emotions with hypnotic riffs and dark melodies reigning supreme. It’s punishing, but in a different way. The production is disgusting, murky stuff that highlights the atmosphere of the 4 tracks presented, bringing it to the forefront in a splendidly doomy manner. The songwriting is solid and warrants repeated listens, it’ll be great to hear more from Goat Witch in the future.

Finally, we’ve reached the last artist on the split. Born Undead are a Brutal Death Metal band that aim to deliver short bursts of unending ferocity. Freudstein (instruments) and Sadist (vocals) get the party started with ‘Feral For Blood’, sampling Dog Soldiers before raining down crushing riffs after crushing riff. There are frantic blast beats, destructive slams and crushing chugs, with Sadist providing a guttural assault on the senses. The drums bring the artillery, heightening the brutality to chaotic results. It’s short, relentless and, most importantly, heavy as balls. ‘The Butcher’ continues things with another Horror sample (this time from Motel Hell) and an explosion of manic riffing that will leave you feeling battered and bruised. The song is only 2 minutes in length but the effect it will have on your body will make you feel like you’ve just endured a marathon. ‘Stench Of Death’ carries on the trend of Horror film sample (taken from The Fog) and crushing riff work much to the same effect as the previous tracks. The mix of slow, heavy chugs and fast paced tremolo picking is as potent as ever, making you need a neck brace from the whiplash that comes with the constant back and forth of sudden tempo changes. It’s another short track but 2 and a half minutes is apparently all these guys need to leave a trail of savagery in their wake. The final track from Born Undead is ‘Devoured Alive’, a cover of the Mortician track from the Zombie Apocalypse album. It’s a great way to honour the band that clearly inspires this project and they do it well. If you know Mortician, you probably know how this one goes but if you don’t it’s pretty simple. Half of the song is a Horror film sample (this time taken from Eaten Alive) and the other half is disgusting riffs that vary from insane tremolo picked riffs to groove-ladened chug fests. It’s an easy formula to follow but it’s obviously an incredibly effective one. Born Undead do the song justice and it fits perfectly into the rest of their work. Overall, this is the shortest section of the split with 4 shots of hefty Brutal Death Metal. The songs are well written, with the same production value as the Seven Doors making everything hit hard but still maintain the grit of the genre. It’s also another great contrast to the two previous artists and showcases just how vast the Death Metal landscape is. It’s excellent fun and if you’re a fan of the style then you won’t be disappointed.

To conclude this review, I think all 3 artists have done a spectacular job on this release. All 3 offer something completely different to the rest but they also fit firmly into the Death Metal genre. The production across the board suits the music well, not sounding super clean and polished to maintain the unique atmosphere that Death Metal has. All of the tracks are strong, and each part of this release requires repeated listens to fully enjoy everything that it has to offer. I can’t pick out a favourite section because there’s something here for every mood. Seven Doors offers us solid Old School Death Metal that rivals anything other bands of that style are doing. Goat Witch brings us melancholy and despair, tapping into our darkest emotions, leaving us confronting the endless void of existence. And Born Undead bring the party, with fun riffs that will leave you smiling gleefully as you feed your annoying neighbour to the local alligator. The way everything flows is brilliant and makes for easy listening, despite the overall length of the split. If you’re a fan of Death Metal, then I urge you to pick this up. Not only will it help support these incredibly talented people, but you’ll also find something to fit every mood. There’s something for everyone on display, so go give it a listen and pick up a copy. You won’t regret it.

Out Tomorrow the 4th June 2021 via BandCamp

Seven Doors – The Gates Of Hell

Somewhere through the mists of the New Orleans swamps looms the Seven Doors hotel, a portal to realms of ungodly suffering. It is just one of three known gateways to hell, though seven exist. It also happens to be home to punishing Old School Death Metal too. Seven Doors is the Death Metal solo project of Ryan Wills, a man best known to UK Black Metal fans as the guy that does the sick shreddy stuff in Deadwood Lake and Wolves In Exile. If the name wasn’t a big giveaway already, the music is based on cult classic Horror’s of the 70’s and 80’s, most notably the works of the Italian Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci. After releasing a stand alone single in October 2020, entitled ‘The Nights Of Terror’, Seven Doors follow up to pay loving respect to Fulci’s most acclaimed, and notorious, body of work… The Seven Doors Trilogy.

‘Into The Tombs’ opens with a sample taken from the first film in the trilogy (The City Of The Living Dead), before descending into maddening melodies and huge chords. The song hits like a drill to the temple, with a variety of savage riffs to satiate even the thirstiest of riff lover’s needs. The opening tremolo picking riff is bound to get bodies slamming, with slower sections sending you to A&E in need of a neck brace. The chorus is as catchy as Death Metal can be, with heaps of groove and Ryan’s raspy caveman lows suitably disgusting for the music. The list of influences ranges from old school bruisers such as Gorguts or Asphyx, to modern day heavyweights like Skeletal Remains and Blood Incantation, choosing the best parts from all of them to create an audible nightmare, the perfect backdrop considering the lyrical content. And, of course, there’s some fine lead work on display with an incredible solo that is fast and shreddy but maintains a sense of melody that helps elevate Ryan’s lead writing chops above most in the country (ask any Deadwood Lake fan and they’d tell you the same). The song reprises the intro melody before leading into a clean guitar homage to Fabio Frizzi’s ‘Irrealtá Di Suoni’, which is taken from the film’s soundtrack. It’s the perfect way to start the E.P, showing you exactly what Seven Doors are about.

The mid-tempo uppercut of ‘Blinding Horrors’ makes for the perfect neck muscle workout, bringing out the inner Corpsegrinder in all of us. The riff work is infectious, laying the perfect foundation for Fulci’s masterpiece, The Beyond, to get the audio love affair it deserves. The middle section riff has an almost Doom vibe to it, bringing in some dissonant bends to perfectly encapsulate the fever dream nightmarish quality of the film. The speed picks up a touch during the solo section, where we are treated to slower, more melodic affair compared to the previous song, though there’s still some sweep picking in there towards the end for those fearing you may not get the shred fix you need. The song ends with the chorus leading into a distorted version of ‘Verso L’Ignoto’, taken from the film’s soundtrack, once again composed by Fabio Frizzi. These little nods to the music of the films help to tie up this neat Fulci package and are great little easter eggs for fans of the films.

The final track goes straight for the jugular, with tremolo picked riffs and devastating blast beats. ‘Cellar Dweller’ is all about The House By The Cemetery and Dr. Freudstein’s reign of terror (and also Bob’s reign of terror on the audience’s ear drums), shoveling riff after riff down our throats, with fast sections capable of whipping up hurricanes and the slower moments opting to pummel you in the face until you’re left feeling battered and bruised. The slamming chorus hits harder than a truck made of lead, the verse blitzes everything in its path with ferocious speed and the solo being suitably manic, providing the shredfest we desire but with a melodic touch that gives it an edge. The constant switches in tempo add to the madness and envelops the listener in Fulci’s blood-soaked world. The song ends with a final rasp of “Fulci lives!”, a statement that Seven Doors fully back-up.

Seven Doors have hit the ground running with this release, blending old school and modern Death Metal flavours together to devastating effect, and tying it all up with the gore-drenched horrors of Lucio Fulci’s demented work. The riffs in all three songs is top tier stuff and with the constant change in tempos and variety, you won’t ever find yourself getting bored. It’s a short but punchy listen that does a Dicky and goes straight for the throat, tearing it to bloodied shreds in the process. Ryan’s vocals are exactly the kind of low, raspy bellows the music requires, adding to the atmosphere of the music, with the addition of Frizzi’s music being the cherry on top of a perfect cake. The performances are as good as they come, with everything sounding tight and locked in, which adds to the overall huge sound the E.P possesses. The bass tone is chunky and slightly dirty, the guitars are crisp and clear but maintain plenty of bite and the drums sound organic and pulverizing, adding to the old school aesthetic. The production is also noteworthy stuff as it sounds like it came from the early 90’s Death Metal scene with it’s raw, gritty savagery in full display. Nothing outshines each other in the mix and the clean sound makes everything is easy to pick out. Overall, this is a solid debut release that will please every Death Metal fan, new or old. If you’re looking for a quick slab of brutality, set against a backdrop of crumbling zombies, vomiting entrails, face-munching tarantulas and twisted undead experiments then this is the perfect release for you. Fulci does indeed live, and Seven Doors are here to spread the word.

Seven Doors The Gates Of Hell is released on Friday the 29th Jan 2021 and available on BandCamp https://sevendoorsdm.bandcamp.com/releases