Witch Blade - Oskuldernas eld - (7/10)
Published on May 28, 2015
Formed in 2013, Witch Blade is a part of the rapidly growing throwback heavy metal scene in Sweden. It’s not like the scene ever really went away, but with bands like Night, Slingblade, Air Raid, Trial and Portrait slogging away it’s pretty clear that there’s a large niche community of ’80s worshiping metal heads nestled in Sweden. Witch Blade fits nicely amongst their countrymen, favoring the dual guitar harmonies of Accept and Iron Maiden retrofitted with touches of Saxon and Anvil. While these types of retro-tinged heavy metal outfits are a dime-a-dozen these days, Witch Blade manages to stand out from the crowd for a few reasons.
Featuring four members, bassist/vocalist Witchhunter, drummer Witchburner, and guitarists Witchlover and Witchdoctor, the band has taken the whole Witch thing to a new level. The band’s debut full length album, Oskuldernas eld, was released in 2015 on vinyl by Dying Victims Productions and on CD through Swords and Chains Records. The album title translates to “virgin’s fire”, and the cool cover art, which depicts a witch being burned by some type of hooded, churchy fellows, ties right back into the band’s love of all things witchy.
Oskuldernas eld manages to sound fresh and energetic despite playing a sound that’s firmly rooted in days gone by. The album sports a mostly laid back atmosphere, bordering on a relaxed sound. The main focus lies on the stellar riffing and the mid-range, crystal clear vocals. While the instrumentation is a bit brash and really isn’t the most technical, there are some solid galloping riffs with trailing melodies. Where Witch Blade shines is when the dual guitar attack syncopates with lead harmonies, like on portions of “Djävulens svärd” and bridge harmony during “Fjärrans krig”. To give a reference point, a lot of the tracks sound like a clash of vintage Accept and Iron Maiden. While the marjority of the musci is firmly entrenched in ’80s traditional metal, tracks “Nattens synder” and the title track bring more of a speed metal influenced sound, merging those traditional sounds with some rollicking Motörhead-styled rhythms.
Keeping the band apart from the pack, Witchunter’s vocal delivery is a clear and vibrant mid-range style, with all of the lyrics sung in Swedish. The vocals sound a bit forced, and even goofy at times, but the work well for the style. Props to the vocalist for attempting some King Diamond-esque falsettos on “Mörkrets tempel”, even if they do fall a little flat. The percussion is rather simplistic for the most part, but there are a few bursts of blaring double bass and some interesting fills. In similar fashion, the bass trudges along; prominent yet never attracting much attention.
While it’s rooted in nostalgia, Oskuldernas eld is a fun album that’s packed with solid riffs. There’s just enough speed metal influence woven throughout the traditional heavy metal material to give the band a fresh sound. The band excels during the harmonized guitar lines and the short bursts of all out speed. There’s plenty of room to grow on this one too, as the vocals, as fitting as they are, could be given a little more bite and edge. Regardless, this album should please fans of the barrage of new Swedish old school heavy bands.