In the 1980s and 1990s, Florida was not only known for X-rated bass artists like Luther Campbell's 2 Live Crew and slick Latin freestyle/dance-pop acts like Exposé -- "the sunshine state" was also known for its abundance of underground death metal, grindcore, and thrash bands. One of Florida's grindcore/death units was Hellwitch, who recorded Syzygial Miscreancy in Tampa, FL, for the small, Los Angeles-based Wild Rags label in 1990. While Hellwitch members Patrick Ranieri (vocals, guitar), Tommy Mouser (bass), and Joe "Witch" Schnessel produced the album themselves, the engineer is Scott Burns -- and in death metal/grindcore circles, that is considered a glowing recommendation. Grindcore bands can be one-dimensional; every tune is ultra-fast, and brute force wins out over musicality. But Hellwitch is a cut above many of its fellow Florida-based grindcore/death metal bands. While Syzygial Miscreancy has grindcore's trademarks -- ultra-fast tempos, ruthless aggression, and dark, morbid lyrics --Hellwitch opts for a bit of variety. The trio isn't afraid to change tempos a lot -- Hellwitch doesn't maintain a 500-miles-per-hour tempo 100 percent of the time -- and as a result, Syzygial Miscreancy isn't quite as predictable as many of the grindcore and death metal releases that came out of Florida in the early '90s. Further, you can actually understand some of the lyrics that are coming out of Ranieri's mouth; in many cases, grindcore vocalists are consistently indecipherable. Like other Hellwitch releases, Syzygial Miscreancy didn't even come close to mainstream acceptance. But it was well-received by the trio's small cult following, and is more memorable than other grindcore releases from Florida in 1990.
Syzygial Miscreancy Review
by Alex Henderson