Sunday, April 26, 2020

Witchskull ; " a Driftwood Cross"

" This Silent Place" was the first song I heard from this Australian stoner doom outfit. It has an upbeat jangle to it that reminds me more of Kyuss than the kind of Sabbath worship that normally dominates the genre. When I pressed play and got the "Children of the Grave" styled gallop that came , I was a little disappointed. This disappointment was balanced by the unique nature of the singer voice. It is possessed by a odd quivering vibrato. His voice is high and piercing yet still has balls to it. Yob's use of vocals is a fair comparison in how it counter balances the beefy pump of fuzzed out guitar., Less manically aggressive than Yob, these guys are a more straight forward affair. They do have a very sonic sound when they build momentum. The dark atmosphere to what they do tips them in more of a doom direction. There is more groove and pounding to the second song. At first listen the way it comes out of the opener made it feel like dynamic shift in the first song. After multiple listens it does hold it's own.

"Red Altar" is more deliberate and Sabbath like. It has a call response with the more gritty distorted kick. The vocals are also more emotive on this one. The guitar solos are not wasted flash but work off the melodic themes of the song. The female vocals that wail during the build up at first sounded like a Uriah Heap like falsetto to me until I listened more closely. Production wise this has a huge juggernaut wall of guitars . The gallops are very commanding. This is the band's 3rd album so they obviously know what they are going for. The moments where they ebb down from this sound into darker more melodic sections are more impressive to me. They do ride a mean chug on "  March of Winter" . The aggression versus melody margin reminds me of Only Living Witness. With songs like "Nero Order" you can hear how their influences go beyond your typical descendants of Sabbath.

The use some restraint on the title track that closes the album. This one is driven by a more 90s styled groove. I will round this one up to a 9.5, it has enough groove and dynamics to hook you in. The melodies are well constructed and I can see myself getting multiple listens from this one. If you like doom that doesn't crawl but rumbles with groove and melodies then this album is for you . Was released on Rise Above Records.

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