Review Summary: This guitar goddess treads a fine line between raucous heavy rock and intricate jazz fusion on her ravishing second album.
As society advances towards greater equity among the genders, there's still a shortage of female musicians who are able to stand the competition of their male counterparts. Hailing from Norway, jazz-trained guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen made a name for herself performing with many renowned local rock bands. It was not until 2011's debut Shoot!
that her career started to solidify, though. The record boded well for the future, proving that the boisterous instrumental rock music is no longer only the domain of males. While it sounded more like an introduction to the realm of this highly versatile shredder, the new collection of songs is a full fledged endeavour that wallows in a much more developed, weightier sound.
All Of Them Witches
continues to unite potentially dissimilar musical worlds. Mollestad juxtaposes driving riffs with odd time signatures and unexpected flourishes, striking a fine balance between raucous heavy rock and intricate jazz fusion. One moment she jauntily channels Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page, only to delve into early Mahavishnu Orchestra territory later on. The rhythm section provides a reliable backdrop for her constantly changeable histrionics. Ellen Brekken's double bass has a monstrous tone that makes for the record's groovy quality, whereas Ivar Loe Bjørnstad's performance behind the drum kit is charismatic yet meticulous, giving the complex music a sense of structure.
It cannot go unnoticed how adroitly the trio design their style to reflect current doom metal and stoner rock aesthetics. Indeed, the closest point of reference seems to be Atomic Bitchwax's genre-hopping epic The Local Fuzz
which, aside from the dense sound, shares its downright progressive approach with All Of Them Witches
. As regards the atmosphere, Mollestad's compositions often convey the desert rock vibe of Fatso Jetson, capturing the peculiar haziness of their most laid-back instrumentals. The guitarist integrates all these potential influences with aplomb, delivering an inspired performance that hardly ever feels showy or forced.
One thing that clearly distinguishes All Of Them Witches
from a multitude of instrumental releases is its immense diversity. The paranoid transitions of “Sing, Goddess” are contrasted with the haunting guitar effects of “The Rex.” Elsewhere, “Code Of Hammurabi” and “Kathmandu” masterfully progress through the plethora of moods and various tempo alterations, while retaining their hard-edged nature. What's more, Mollestad proves equally convincing in more subdued cuts. "Ghrá Rúnda" is an admirably restrained a cappella piece that amply demonstrates her uncanny knack for evoking mood.
Overall, All Of Them Witches
is a multifaceted effort that should appeal to both progressive rock and metal fans. Hedvig Mollestad Trio have stepped up their game in every aspect, coming out with an instrumental album that's dexterously performed, often inventive and always compelling.