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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Witchery – Don’t Fear the Reaper (Century Media, 2006)

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Third release from this project, band,… thing. I remember when I bought my first Witchery album, I had seen it sitting on the half price shelf for a long time, one day I took the time to look at it and read the sticker on the front. It said featuring members of Mercyful Fate, being a big Mercyful Fate fan I decided to get it. I didn’t like it much, to be honest, and when I discovered the Mercyful Fate member to be D’Angelo, who was at best a hired gun in MF, I just left it laying around.

 

For a long time I only listened to Witchery when they popped up in random mode on Itunes, but I started to really enjoy it, and now I own all their albums and listen to them regularly. I chose this album to review because it fucking rules.

 

I’m a big thrash fan, but a novice in the world of blackened thrash. So I don’t know the rules of this particular game. But the songwriting is very much in like a meeting between The Haunted, Slayer, Candlemass and Arch Enemy. The music varies between fast, up tempo and mid-paced grooves. The rhythm section is so tight it could suffocate you, and the vocals are raspy, black metal kind of raspy, and sung with flair and energy.

 

The riffs are simple, efficient and extremely groovy on slower material and inspires both air guitar and headbanging on faster songs.  The fast material in particular is reminiscent of The Haunted, which is not surprising considering who writes the music for both bands.

 

One thing that makes this band and this album stand out for me is the bands ability to play with cliches without the banality of say …. Steel Panther or something like that. The fact that most of the songs have a sing along chorus makes it all the better. I might be a thrasher, but I also like to scream along.  

 

Don’t fear the Reaper contains quite a collection of excellent tracks, but I would like to point out the slow, steady beat of Draw Blood. The grooves of The Ritual, or Crossfixation. Or maybe the brutality of Immortal Death or Cannonfodder. Or maybe the just point out the excellent melodies of the instrumental tracks, especially The Wait of the Pyramids, which feature a guest appearance by one of my personal heroes; Hank Sherman of Mercyful Fate, but all three instrumentals are excellent.

As I hope you can tell by now, I absolutely love this album, although the lyrics are silly and the production could have been cleaned up a bit, the albums rocks, start to finish.