Review Summary: Ever feel the need to appease your erotic satanic fetish?
It’s surprising that Swedish death-thrash super group Witchery don’t have a much larger following than they currently do right now; what, with recruitments from bands such as Arch Enemy, The Haunted, Satanic Slaughter, Séance, and Opeth added to their numbers, you’d probably expect them to be making bigger waves in the underground, no? Just recently they even signed on Marduk’s ex-singer, Erik Hagstedt (a.k.a. Legion), to take over the relaying of their not-so-welcoming-to-Jesus Christ topics for their new album, Witchkrieg
. Further, Slayer’s own Kerry King, Exodus’ Gary Holt and Lee Altus, King Diamond’s Andy Laroque, and Death Angel’s Jim Durkin have even stopped by for quest appearances on this album, many of which come in the form of extra guitar solo inclusions for the songs. Frankly I’m just surprised that I haven’t seen too many advertisements for this celebrity metal-esque Witchkrieg
and that the actual album itself doesn’t sound denser than it really is.
However, I must say that the production on Witchkrieg
is so thick, clean, and suffocating that Witchery’s sound does come off as very dense
through the speakers. This is mainly due to the sometimes excessively high volume of the mix, though: the guitars, drums, and vocals sound very, very loud
on this album. Truth be told, however, there’s not all that much going for the band as far as the technicality of their playing goes; both the death and thrash genres of metal have much better to offer you, and the fact that the band try to dress up what little instrumental prowess they give you with a brick wall of production does, in all honestly, come off as a bit pretentious and just shameful. This is a bit troubling, as the bands that Witchery pull from for their roster are mostly technically proficient on average and quite reasonable when it comes to their studio power-usage when making an album. On the split-side of things, though, the riffing from The Haunting’s ex-ax, Patrik Jensen, is perfectly carried and bolstered by Witchkrieg
’s paint job. There are many head-bang-able moments to be found on the album, and along with Hagstedt’s sharp-piercing yet catchy vocal melodies, these moments are where the album truly takes flight.
With such talented guests making appearances throughout Witchkrieg
, it’s a shame that their offerings usually distract from the album’s finer moments. If anything the thrash sound of the album almost solely comes from the inclusions of these thrash guest guitar players; aside from this, most of the album borders on a slow-to-mid tempo melodic death metal sound. When you have a thrash-y solo come out of nowhere, such as in the middle of sixth-cut “From Dead To…” where an almost commercial-sounding snarled chorus is split in half by a fret-chaser, you have an unsettling problem where Witchery are caught un-obligingly and jarringly hopping from one genre to the next. With so many guest guitarists, this problem occurs in well over half of Witchkrieg
. Even though taking the solos out would have just further
revealed the band’s instrumental nakedness, the album would have at least been more consistent and probably catchier in the long run, especially when you consider the fact that Hagstedt finds himself too often interrupted by guests that seemingly, though through the band’s own ignorance, step out of line to interrupt things.
This is how Witchkrieg
plays out as a death-thrash album when it comes down to it: highly produced to the point of excess, head-bang-able in many-a-spot, instrumentally lacking, and uncomfortably uncomfortable in its genre pairing. Five albums in and Witchery are still having problems, seemingly playing as a divided group of talented musicians when they should really just learn to play as a band. Unfortunately, the problem of super groups suffering from a lack of any sort of collaborative-creative union happens frequently in the music world, and Witchery just seem to be another case where things need to be ironed out before the writing of another album - or, rather, that is, before they literally
decide to go out and raise hell again in a few years. So, all things being considered, are you still wondering why the band aren't that popular? I know I'm not.