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Witchfinder – Hazy Rites

Witchfinder
Hazy Rites
by Max Elias at 22 April 2019, 11:30 PM

WITCHFINDER is a band peddling slabs of meaty, often psychedelic, doom for listeners to sink their teeth into. From the first of these seven tracks, “Ouija”, the repetition and massive weight typical of doom are abundantly obvious. The atmospheric sledgehammer that I hope is the sound they were going for, since it’s what I took away from the album, is enhanced by the indistinct but chilling wail of vocalist Clemente, whose last name is listed nowhere. That just makes them more mysterious I guess. Though you might deride Witchfinder and by extension doom in general as leaning on a few simple ideas and being sophomoric, especially if you are more inclined towards the complex subgenres metal offers, not banging your head at for example the riff that begins “Satan’s Haze” is basically impossible. What sparing lead guitar there is serves a similar function as the vocals; to be eerie, and in that it succeeds. I will admit to getting tired of listening to this particular song after a few minutes though, especially in the context of it being ten minutes long. Which brings up another point about the album; seven songs doesn’t seem like much, but they are all fairly to very long, as again is a doom metal convention A little before the six minute mark, “Satan’s Haze” gets more tolerable for me though, when some guitar melodies start reappearing and other instruments proceeds to lay out and let the guitar breathe. “Covendoom” is similarly long, and though it is of course heavy, has more of an epic vibe to it especially in its soaring guitar intro. The riff that happens around six and a half minutes in, though still pretty minimalist, marks a shift in the song and brings a strong groove before some leads kick in.

 What is interesting even before you listen to anything on the album is that only the first three songs are Satan and occult focused; a hard turn towards more grounded subject matter occurs when you get to “Sexual Intercourse”, “Wild Trippin’”, etc. The question is of course whether the music reflects this. I think it does, which first crops up in “Sexual Intercourse” (that being the first of these songs, sequentially). It bounces more, like something I could imagine Tony Iommi writing. The riff that introduces the song does turn into spacy chord work like what you hear previously, but the drumming always feels looser on this song, as makes sense for a song about sex. The last couple minutes briefly go into something more uptempo and definitely remind me of Sabbath, although perhaps less clear production-wise. “Wild Trippin’” starts with so free-flowing bass rumbling before it morphs into a cavernous roar, with muted but audible lead guitar ringing out in evil bliss. The bass is what really seems to define this song, as breaks so it can shine are frequent.

Certain songs have parts that sound more unique than others and it isn’t as if Witchfinder has written the same song seven times, but the album does have a definite character to it throughout; it’s heavy and wants you to bang your head, which you’ll do. I’m hesitant to write it off as boring just because I got bored of it fairly easily being that I have never been a doom aficionado, to put it mildly. This may come off as ignorant, but it feels like I’ve heard every doom band I know write songs like these before (which doesn’t diminish quality, regardless of genre).

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Ouija
2. Satan’s Haze
3. Covendoom
4. Sexual Intercourse
5. Wild Trippin’
6. Sorry
7. Dans L’Instant
Lineup:
Tom – Drums
Clemente – Bass/Vocals
Stan – Guitar
Record Label: Black Bow Records
     


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