Seattle’s Missing Witness emerged out of the Cascadian gloom three years ago with a debut EP as murky as it was affecting. Part darkwave, part industrial, part grimy goth rock, Silence made an impression by flipping between very sculpted and very raw sounds at a moment’s notice. The band’s second EP doesn’t break radically from its predecessor’s path, but does consolidate many of its disparate sounds into a sleeker and more aggressive package.
Traitors‘ six tracks put dense and relentless drums right up front, interwoven with programming that’s alternately polished for melodic sheen and abraded to sandpaper. Regardless of the sound palette, Missing Witness build tension nigh-instantaneously, from the moment the kicks of the title track come in, and maintain it throughout. While the more atmospheric side of the band’s sound showcased on Silence endures, its textures and pads are almost always bracketed against a bracing wall of percussion, noise, and Jeremy Allen’s acid-throat vocals. This doesn’t always necessitate speed, but there’s no denying that the throwback dark electro style of “Shapeshifter” or the more grooving electro-industrial of “Sleepwalking” (which brings Cardinal Noire to mind) benefit from full-throttle tempos. The economical twenty-two minute run time for the six tracks can’t but help that intensity.
As alluded to above, Missing Witness work a pretty hybrid style. In the broadest sense darkwave does still feel like the closest genre approximation, but even that feels like a cop-out. The distinct metallic tang of electro-industrial is certainly detectable as well, but it’s been left to simmer in the band’s turbid soup for so long that it can’t be isolated from the rest of the recipe. Allen’s vocals, as well as the claustrophobic mix, further help to smear the genre tags (I feel there’s a philosophical as well as musical kinship with Statiqbloom here, on that score).
It’s with that full integration of a host of dark electronic signifiers, some old, some new, some harsh, some clean, that Missing Witness excel. Although wholly dreary and weighty, the variety of ideas and sounds Traitors offers in rapid succession should be welcome and refreshing, regardless of your preferred style of dark electronics. Recommended.