Witchery – In His Infernal Majesty’s Service (Century Media 2016)

This release snuck by me, I didn’t know about it until looking up Witchery on Spotify to listen Ashes to Ashes. I thought this band was over and done, with Axenrot now a full time member of Opeth and different singers coming and going. I’m kind of glad they didn’t stick to Legion on the mike, his voice wasn’t right for the sound. This new guy, Angus Norder, is much more on line with Tony Kampner. The mesh of the black metal vocals with thrashy riffs was always one of the key elements in Witchery’s sound, and I’m glad they found a new guy who can pull it off.

When I first got into the band it was the sing along silliness and banality of the lyrics in combination with the crushing guitars of Patrick Jensen and Richard Corpse that drew me in. The riffs are simple, but a near perfect combination of banality and blistering, always on the edge of the cliché. The big guitars are definitely present on this album. Stylistically this album is quite close Symphony for the Devil, their prime release from 2001.

The songs that immediately got stuck in my brain were Nosferatu, The Burning of Salem and Lavey-athan. These three all have the power and the headbanging qualities I want from Witchery; big powerful riffs, easy and catchy melodies. All of these were immediately stuck in my brain, and all three will feature in my great all time, go-to playlist.

Gilded Fangs is an extremed paced little ditty, short and sweet. Empty Tombs has really grown on me; it has that certain combination of heaviness and differing tempos. It got a slow, chugging part and a faster, thrashier part and the main riff is more of a mid paced kind of thing.  In Warm Blood is mid paced throughout. The vocal melody is great, with a creepy feel, especially the way he says “blood”, tickles my funny bone.  Feed the Gun is classic Witchery, a great riff builds and pulls, while the vocals inspire listener participating.

As always Sharlee D’Angelo has a thick and gritty bass. He never craves the spotlight, but is always clear and present. Excellent! New drummer Christofer Barkensjö does an excellent job and has a style that fits the band in a major way.

It’s quite hard to pick out the best track; the overall quality of the music is top notch throughout. If I had to choose, In Warm Blood and The Burning of Salem might have a slight edge over the others.

Rating: 4,5 / 5

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