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Vortex - Them Witches

Them Witches
by Max Elias at 29 September 2019, 8:01 AM

VORTEX is a band from the Netherlands, who have earned vast repute by constantly pumping-out quality metal. This time is no different; even though I had never heard of them before, and their previous albums were proven pretty tough to find, from the first track it was clear that "Them Witches" was going to be a great album and VORTEX deserve far more notoriety.

The first track, “Spiritualien”, kicks in and for nearly 5 minutes doesn’t seem to stop or to slow down. The chugging drums and punching riffs are enough to get you hooked, but the lead work is impressive as well. Vocalist Jurjen Tichelaar has a gruffer and a lower-pitched voice than many Classic Metal singers, giving the music a more Teutonic Speed Metal feel, which is similar to early-GRAVE DIGGER and PARAGON. The bordering-on-Thrash riffs continue with “Death at Dawn”, which channels early-80s ferocity and exuberance. Interestingly, that song is more up-tempo and aggressive than “I.C.U.”, which, by the title, sounds like it should also be a rage-fueled assault. The screeches in the chorus do a good job of conveying ferocity through. The ending, however, feels slightly dragged out.

Next, out of left field, comes the title track, "Them Witches" - starting slowly and melodically with a repeated arpeggio pattern that is at once eerie and soothing. After the first minute, the riffing really starts, and familiarly meaty galloping guitars take center stage. Though not a man with a high-range voice, the vocalist delivers his lyrics like an opera singer.

At times the lyrics get a little silly, like on “Gonna Hit You”, which, even for NWOBHM, is a cheesy title, and if you look at lyric sheets for any of their other work, you’ll wind up both surprised and a little dismayed. Fortunately, the surprise is because It’s hard to actually understand the vocals at the moment, thanks to his vocal timbre and delivery - both of which are excellent. So you can just sit back and enjoy the riffs, of which there are many. “No Breath” is standing out in terms of guitar moments, with its galvanizing fast-pedal tone basis and wailing lead.

VORTEX has a unique sound, where you can identify bits of it that sound similar to things other bands have done, but either they are interpreted slightly differently, or sound fresh when combined with all the other elements of their sound. There are plentiful of harmonized riffs in “Fearless”, for example, but unlike the norm of NWOBHM, they don’t sound like something IRON MAIDEN would do. In addition, it is clear that the least typical part of the picture is the vocalist, but while he sounds like the dude from PARAGON, the band doesn’t sound like every other Speed Metal band, just with different vocals. I liked the album and it is a good window into the Dutch Metal scene, which is not mentioned in the same way as the German or the Swedish Metal scenes. It may seem a bit rough around the edges to some, but that factors into its charm.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Spiritualien
2. Death At Dawn
3. I.C.U
4. Them Witches
5. Gonna Hit You
6. Tremorial
7. No Breath
8. Fearless
9. Five Fall
10. Thirst Things First
Jurjen Tichelaar - Vocals
Martjo Brongers - Guitars
Orion Roos - Guitars
Harm ten Hoove - Bass
Henk Bosma - Drums
Record Label: Gates Of Hell Records


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