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Witchskull – A Driftwood Cross Award winner

Witchskull
A Driftwood Cross
by Gary Hernandez at 17 May 2020, 5:03 AM

There are so many things to dig about WITCHSKULL. First, they are out of Australia and therefore carry extra cred on their outsider card. Second, they are one of those incredible bands that not everyone knows about but should. Third, their catalogue only includes three albums, so you won’t go broke buying up everything they have released once you become converted. Fourth, did I mention these guys kick ass like Godzilla on crack but with more staying power?

The facts as we know them: WITCHSKULL is a power trio hailing from Canderra, Australia. They formed in 2014. They have had zero lineup changes. On April 24, 2020 they issued their third full-length album, “A Driftwood Cross.” They play occult focused, Stoner infused, Doom metal. The prowess of the Tony McMahon (bass) and Joel Green (drums) rhythm section is only surpassed by their own beards. Seriously. All three of their albums are fantastic and you should buy them immediately. Again, seriously.

A Driftwood Cross” kicks off with riff chugging “Black Cathedral.” No power above or below will save your neck against the compulsion of the riff, but you’ll find respite at the 3:30 mark when the riffs drop tempo and shift into sustained Doom. The break is short lived, though, as “Baphomet’s Child” (favorite track, btw) cranks in. The song also solves the riddle of how to pronounce “Baphomet,” for which I’m eternally and genuinely grateful. Now if they do a song about “Worcestershire” and “Grosvenor,” that would be great. Track three, “This Silent Place,” maintains the crushing momentum. On first listening I thought the song was a play on the same riff performed at different registers, but upon second listen I realized it was a full and seismic progression of motif. (If that sentence sounds forced, it’s because I’m struggling to capture in words just how awesome this track is.)

Track four, “The Red Altar,” shifts to full-on Doom proportions. This song is epic and foreboding all at once, maybe even epically foreboding. And just when you think this album couldn’t explore any other variations, “Dresden” gallops in like the four horsemen. Oh, god, and then track six, “March of Winter,” just stomps all over your ruined soul. You really don’t catch a break on this album until “Nero Order” which is probably the kid I would give up if I had to choose, although it does have some deeply visceral moments. The album ends on the title track, “A Driftwood Cross,” which is a bruising exposition of passion and lament.

I’m guessing a spoiler alert really isn’t needed at this point. This is the hat trick for WITCHSKULL. After two incredible albums, this power trio from down under pulls us all down and under with their third and maybe even best album yet. Its refreshing to see an already solid band continually evolve.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Black Cathedrals
2. Baphomet's Child
3. This Silent Place
4. The Red Altar
5. Dresden
6. March of Winter
7. Nero Order
8. A Driftwood Cross
Lineup:
Tony McMahon – Bass
Joel Green – Drums
Marcus De Pasquale – Vocals, Guitars
Record Label: Rise Above Records
     


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Edited 05 June 2020
 

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