Darkened Anthology 1992-2002

Virginia’s Witch-Hunt were together for 10 years from 1992-2002 and played a very early form of death metal/thrash, which eventually went towards a black metal sound towards the last few years of their existence.  This anthology collection compiles the majority of their songs throughout their releases, which are: Both 1993 demo’s Born Dead and Fearless,  1995 demo Darkened Salvation, 1996 ep Prophecies of a Great Plague, 2000 album Souls Enshrouded Fire and 2002 promo demo.

You can hear the garage death metal influence on the Born Dead title track from the demo.  Brian Straight was playing guitar and growling and his brother Ben played drums.  You can hear some Slayer guitar riffing and by and large it was a band first trying their hand at recording, but there is a lot of fun energy and Brian sounding eerily familiar to Barnes from the first Cannibal Corpse album.  This energy continued on through their Fearless demo with Brian laying out some nice growls and he enunciated the lyrics quite well and you can clearly make out what he is growling, which was not the most common thing with early death metal bands.  Darkened Salvation saw the band add Erik Sayenga on bass guitar and we all know Erik eventually went on to play drums for Dying Fetus, early in DF’s career.  This particular demo continued with better song-writing and musicianship.  The band crafting catchier songs with better riffing, more double bass drums and the title track is quite killer.  The 2.32 part would be the Holy Shit part with the cymbal hit and right into a killer groove.

X-Rated Records released the cd ep Prophecies of a Great Plague and the band were able to have a better recording budget and by this time Ben was out of the band and Erik took over the drums and Seth Newton entered on bass.  Brian’s vocals were becoming stronger and his guitar riffing catchy, yet still keeping their somewhat melodic edge.  Erik, keeping a tight rhythm going with Seth, because Mr. Newton was known for getting out of line on one or two occasions shouting Baba Booey onstage and Erik, who was eating drums for breakfast, would have to remind Seth to tone it down.  This ep, by and large, has always been an early favorite for me and I remember Brian sending it to me.  By 2000 Brian was out of Witch-Hunt, entrenched in school and the one and only album was released, Souls Enshrouded Fire.  Seth played bass, guitar, keyboards and Erik continued with drumming, as well as playing guitar and taking over the vocals.  The music trended towards a more melodic form of epic black metal, with some death metal leanings.  I swear Erik is like a freaking musical genius, especially with his current band Warthrone with him singing and playing the instruments-unreal talent!  So along with this album and the 2002 promo demo the band really did not resemble the earlier Witch-Hunt, that the Straight brothers created which was mainly a form of melodic death metal and the later version of the band entrenched in melodic black metal, which also went full-on raging brutal black metal.  I love both versions of the band and Erik’s girlfriend at the time, now his wife and bandmate, Kristel, played keys on the 2002 demo.  Pretty cool stuff right there.

Brian and Erik have worked tirelessly on sorting through all their Witch-Hunt flyers, pics and having all the music and pics ready for a release and Lost Apparitions has done a great job with this compilation.  All material has been remastered and the earlier material does not have much hiss at all, since the remastering was done from original DAT’s and Mp3 files.  Missing are some songs from the releases and with reissues I am a stickler, so I wish all the material the band recorded on all these releases was on this cd.  There is a nice collage of pictures and I remember a lot of these pics from zines and the album cover is impressive. Mark Riddick doing outstanding work.  A few personal reflections why Witch-Hunt are special to me.  One of the earliest shows I sang with Internal Bleeding was on November 12, 1994 at a Virginia club, referred to as The Cave.  Brian and I had just started writing as pen pals and swapping flyers and ads through the mail and he did an onstage duet with me for “Anointed in Servitude”.  It was a really cool moment for me and he was very welcoming to me, as the new Internal Bleeding singer.  Horror of Horrors were also on the bill and the guitarist Chewka and I became friends.  Oh the connections get better…. A lady was at the show I met several months earlier at the Milwaukee Metalfest, showed up to the show and her and I exchanged addresses-yes before the internet and cell phones folks, and we wrote to each other for the next year and guess what?..that lady is now my wife of close to 17 years now.  Furthermore, I developed close friendships with Horror of Horrors and Brian from Witch-Hunt continued to remain in contact and I still consider him a dear friend.  Erik went on to drum for Dying Fetus and I saw him drum for them on the Stop at Nothing tour and continue to see he and his wife at shows/fests and they’re great people.

So there is some personal info, which I just could not leave on the table.  Darkened Anthology sounds excellent and Witch-Hunt, were an important part of the metal scene in the Virginia, MD and DC area.  Witch-Hunt’s demos and material was spread out and shared across the globe and please support this release by purchasing the cd.  Stellar compilation that is a worthy – Buy or Die!


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
September 3rd, 2019


  1. Commented by: Brian Straight

    Frank, thanks so much! Man, the history… How much time has passed… It really does feel like Nov 94 at The Cave was just yesterday. I’m glad most of us are still here to enjoy those memories. I also have most of your old letters from back in the pen pal days; I ought to scan and send to you. You’d get a laugh out of them now – especially the ones where you’re calling me a pig stool for not putting enough postage on the envelopes and costing you some coin!

  2. Commented by: F.Rini

    Brian. Yeah you should scan me those letters. That Cave show was very memorable and the review really took me down nostalgic memory lane. The comp is excellent and I’m proud to call you my friend after all these years.

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