Sometimes all a band needs to do is focus on what they want to accomplish for it to become a reality, and it’s this focus on the music that makes WITCHERY such a fun and crushing listen. Their debut album “Restless & Dead” is just what I mentioned above – focused, fun, and crushing all around.
Although after listening to the album, I’m sure we call all agree that they may not have the most original sound out there. Combining elements of European Thrash, old school Death Metal (hell those are half steps from each other any way) with a good solid dose of VENOM and MERCYFUL FATE just to spice it up, “Restless & Dead” isn’t going to be throwing any curve balls at anyone anytime soon. The band play it with vigor and heart that few can follow up and it makes the album feel fresh and inspired instead of trotting down used paths.
The band does toy with some pretty cool combinations on “Restless & Dead” though. The play a little with atmosphere throughout the release, whether it’s the rain sound effects at the beginning of “Midnight At The Graveyard” mixed with the simplistic guitar part and the bell or even the more mid-tempo and darkly melancholic “House Of Raining Blood” but the band toys with atmospheric material (which is where the MERCYFUL FATE influence really shows) that makes their Thrashier songs sound even more prevalent and bone crushing.
And bone crushing is exactly what their faster songs definitely do. If you aren’t headbanging to beefy riffs contained on tracks like “The Reaper” or “Born In The Night” then you must obviously be dead. WITCHERY doesn’t blaze through their music like many Thrash bands tend to do (perhaps that is the old school Death Metal influence at work here) but they can put together a very energetic song and do it well. Lots of this comes from having experienced members in the band. In fact, its not far from the truth to call WITCHERY a ‘super group’ with the likes of Toxine on the hissing vocals (who plays the guitar on recently reformed SÉANCE) along with guitarists Patrik Jensen from THE HAUNTED, Richard Corpse also from SÉANCE, Sharlee D’Angelo of ARCH ENEMY on bass, and Mique (another one from…you guessed it, SÉANCE!) behind the kit. Hell, this is a Metalheads dream!
If there was one slight complaint it would be that I wanted to hear some good solid soloing from the outfit. The genre that the band fell into was that modern Thrash Metal that happened in the late 90s where the riff was God and the solo wasn’t all that important and the album is still a solid jawbreaker, but I really wanted some kind of solid soloing like we heard hints of on “The Hangman” or on “All Evil”. I just wanted more.
This is still a ridiculously awesome album and one of my favorites that came from the modern Thrash movement in the late 90s. WITCHERY should have continued as a main stay of Metal instead of the side-project that it became when the members eventually began to have success with their other bands. If you are fan of any of those bands or just in ear assaulting riffs then check out “Restless & Dead”.
Songs to check out: “The Reaper”, “Midnight At The Graveyard”, “All Evil”.
(Online September 13, 2009)