Witch house is a genre that always captivates me, the atmosphere, the beats, the occult themes, the dark menacing energy. For me the genre will always be synonymous with Blvsphemy Records, the label that helped me fall in love with this niche style of music. Much to my surprise and excitement, I saw that they had released a compilation album titled HERETICS VOL IIII. They did not disappoint, giving us a highlights reel of what the genre is all about and setting a new standard for new artists.
Artist: Blvsphemy Records (Various Artists)
Album: HERETICS VOL IIII
Label: Blvsphemy Records
Release Date: January 4, 2023
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Written by James Sweetlove
Witch house is a genre that always captivates me, the atmosphere, the beats, the occult themes, the dark menacing energy of it. For me the genre will always be synonymous with Blvsphemy Records, the label that helped me fall in love with this niche style of music. Everything this label puts out is of the highest quality, cherry picking some of the darkest, most menacing electronic music emerging from the underground scene. Unfortunately for me I got so tied up with other music that I forgot to check in this year with what the label had put out, but much to my surprise and excitement, I saw that they had released a compilation album of new witch house music titled HERETICS VOL IIII. I knew immediately that I had to give this the attention and coverage that it would undoubtably deserve.
Before I launch into that I want to explain what the genre actually is for those who are unfamiliar. Witch house is a genre of electronic music that emerged in the late 2000s. Its known for its dark, occult-inspired aesthetic, slow tempos, and heavy use of reverb, distortion, and lo-fi production techniques. The genre draws influences from various styles, including industrial, shoegaze, trap and goth music. Witch house often features ethereal, haunting vocals, chopped and screwed samples, and eerie synthesizer melodies. It incorporates elements of noise music and experimental electronic sounds, creating an atmospheric and sometimes unsettling listening experience. The genre’s name comes from its association with witchcraft, occult imagery, and occult-themed samples and lyrics.
Once again, the label showed us all exactly why they are tastemakers in the scene. HERETICS VOL IIII presents us with eleven fantastically dark, gloomy, menacing offerings of pulsing, shrieking electronic music. These come from eleven different artists, some new, some familiar to existing fans of the label. The release kicks off with Saint – Stigmata, an artist that I’m unfamiliar with, but a perfect intro to the release, immediately setting the mood with somewhat gothic, pulsing industrial electronic energy, underlying trap beats and low mixed shrieked vocals. Following this we have Satanic Hispanic – Disobey, an artist that I am very familiar with and who has been a label staple for some time now and with good cause, given their mastery of harsh vocals and uncomfortable electronic music. They give us a healthy dose of dark swagger here, offering up distorted harsh spoken vocals and occult focused lyrics, plastering this over catchy but menacing electronic trap and industrial electronic elements.
Morningstvr – Dreaming of the Damned takes things in a far more black metal focused direction, with raw shrieked vocals and electronic elements that are highly influenced by the metal genre in both tone and composition. RottenWolf – BLCKNSS diverts to a far higher energy, in your face trap based style mixed with horror movie soundtrack undertones coming at the listener with unrelenting force for its full 1:32 duration. CultChild – Weakness of the Flesh takes step back and gives us a truly haunting, ambient infused offering with beautiful yet creepy minimalistic electronic elements and unsettling hushed vocals. This is easily one of my new favourite tracks in the genre, there’s just something about it that sticks with you long after listening. It isn’t every day that an artist creates something this haunting with such minimalism and I would love to hear this in a horror movie soundtrack someday.
Plvgues – Volos is one of my favourites on the album, but that should be no surprise given that they’re of my favourite acts in the genre. They once again give us a perfect blend of menacing tension and haunting beauty and all with a catchy and memorable underlying beat that gradually grows with the track’s rising tension. Sytematic Doses – Idle Hands takes a more overtly trap influenced approach, with higher energy, more in your face electronic elements and beats, this style isn’t as much my thing, but it brings some added variety to the mix. Gloomstone – I Wish You Would Leave follows in this same style but with some horror movie soundtrack influences subtly woven into its arrangement.
Decomposition – Thaumaturgy is another favourite of mine on the album and again this is no surprise given how much love I have for this project. They just have a mastery of both dark atmosphere and dramatic flair, marrying the two seamlessly here. The could work perfectly as a horror video game soundtrack, a horror film score or as seedy music playing in a dimly lit, strobe filled club. Wraith Haven – Gravity takes a more upbeat approach to things, working in some solid 80s goth rock drum beats among more obvious trap elements. Death Cult Devotion – Esoterismos da Morte is a solid closer to the album, uniting many of the elements from the tracks leading to it. It marries elements of dark ambience, menacing beats among stripped back electronic elements, creep spoken word elements and toned-down trap elements.
Overall, this is a fantastic album, and a solid sample of what Blvsphemy Records is all about. If you’re new to the genre, then this is a perfect place to start and if you’re already a fan then you’ll find plenty to love here. For me this has re-kindled my love of witch house and dark electronic music and made me wonder why I had taken a break from listening to it for so long.
Listen to and order the album: