Attempting to mimic a musical throw-back to genres that have come and passed (in terms of popular music anyway) is always a flirtation. Legions of epic failures have tried to climb the Rock n’ Roll Resurgence mountain that seemed to briefly loom above the rock music scene for a little while there – only to churn out perhaps a couple catchy singles, then a forgotten or unnoticed sophomore outing, with the final fate of eventually being forgotten altogether; music is a harsh mistress, and it seems when you piss her off, you rarely get too far. While paying homage to idols that may have inspired a band to start making music in the first place can be a great gesture of respect, it may not always be interpreted that way. Forging a career on the backs of pioneers have the ability to draw the ire of fans and critics alike; choosing to mirror a musical style that has long-faded in the public’s ear usually doesn’t make things more embraceable either.
In the case of Vermont/Massachusetts based act Witch
a fine line is found, a musical harmony between the crunchy, doom-riddled riffing of Black Sabbath
and a more original approach to catchy hooks and droning melodies. What seems to separate this band from their peers is their overall attention to detail on the given era they’re covering; well obviously using the fuzzy riffs their heavy side covered, but it’s their attention to the psychedelic and bluesy influences that also found their way into the music of the 70s. Though I’m actually a proponent for genre-labels to a degree, I dislike the label of stoner-metal/rock – I won’t get into that now, other than to say it doesn’t do a band like Witch justice. Though the band’s tendency to drone on may suggest a lethargic composition, they just as quickly manage to up the tempo and make other things happen within the same track. Witch’s crunchy, Lo-Fi assault only lends to their charm, rather than coming off as half-assed production and/or mixing skills. Admittedly, the vocals can get a little annoying after a while, though they really don’t hurt the music, and the rest of the bands instrumental skills do more than enough to make up for a perhaps less than stellar frontman. The fuzzy guitar takes center stage a lot here, but guitarists Graham Clise and Kyle Thomas (who also handles the vocal duties) have a body of tones and effects in their trick-bags, and both seem more than capable of a decent solo.
With music that seems to always impose a sense of impending doom upon its listeners, while retaining a skill for catchy melodies that seem to burst through this foreboding cloud in unpredictable bursts. Witch’s sound isn’t going to be for everyone; they owe a lot to bands like Sabbath, and they make no attempt to hide that fact. Undoubtedly, Witch is a band that will be most enjoyed by Sabbath loving fans, or those who prefer the droney sound that comes with the “stoner” tag, but may have just enough to offer through their various musical roots to hook a new listener here and there. Ultimately, what makes this album work is the sum of its parts, and their ability to take a Lo-fi, almost gritty sounding production and use it to give their record some sort of an atmospheric charm.