21 June 2010
by Tom Dare
Given the pedigree of the band’s members, and given the fact that this is their fifth record over the last twelve years, it is perhaps surprising that Witchery are not better known than they are. After all, if you are comprised of current or former members of The Haunted, Arch Enemy, Merciful Fate and Opeth, you might expect a tad more attention than they’ve received thus far.
But then this is their first record for four years, and their first with new vocalist Legion, so perhaps this is understandable. With Witchkrieg, they do seem to be making a strong case to receive the consideration that has not come their way so far. Witchery’s brand of thrash with a strong black metal influence is not limited to the vocals – which are provided by Legion, former shrieker for black metal blasphemers Marduk, and are as horrible as you could wish – but to their instrumental parts as well. While perhaps not in the territory of Slayer’s maniacal chaos, the riffing of King and Hanneman are an obvious reference point, as are the major bands of the Teutonic thrash scene. Just to inject a little more evil into the equation, there are the nods in the direction of Celtic Frost (inevitably) and the Swedish black metal sound of the 90s.
The effect is one of genuine bad boys going for a raucous night out. By “bad boys”, we are not talking about cheeky chappies who make dirty jokes over a pint. This sounds like the work of the kind of twisted souls who will trash the bar they are in on a whim before gatecrashing your party and daubing your house with goat’s blood, just for the hell of it. It is very much nasty and evil – and seriously heavy – but the adrenaline-fuelled aggressive fun is still there, although you do worry slightly about the safety of your soul.
Watch Witchery’s ‘Making Of Witchkrieg’ video:
Profound and likely to live long in the memory Witchkrieg is not, but as a brief and evil entertaining interlude, you cannot do better. The riffs vary between a hell-for-leather thrash and a twisted wail, the solos shriek insanely over the pounding drums and Legion’s vocals round everything off perfectly. While his work with Marduk came in for (sometimes justified) criticism, Witchery suits his voice far better. The nails-down-the-blackboard rasp that was perhaps not quite percussive enough for the blasphemy of his prior band viciously compliments the chug of the riffs and the pound of Martin Axenrot’s (also of Opeth and Bloodbath) drums. Surprisingly, there are even a few hooks, not in a melodic sense, but the chorus of ‘The God Who Fell From Earth’ will certainly have you wrecking your throat by trying to join in after a play or two.
This may neither be particularly big nor clever, but it certainly is fun. Music this evil is rarely this entertaining, and even when it is it can feel a touch contrived, something effortlessly avoided here. Witchery continue to show that, even though you may be twisted and damned to hell, it’s still possible to enjoy yourself.
Sounds like: Slayer, Celtic Frost, Sodom
Top tracks: The God Who Fell From Earth, From Dead To Worse, Witch Hunter
Witchery- Witchkrieg tracklisting:
Wearer Of Wolf’s Skin
The God Who Fell From Earth
From Dead To Worse
Devil Rides Out
One Foot In The Grave
Hung, Drawn And Quartered