All Them Witches
Nothing as the Ideal


4.0
excellent

Review

by Inoculaeted USER (2 Reviews)
September 14th, 2020 | 50 replies


Release Date: 09/04/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The great form has no shape

Have you ever encountered the sentiment that rock music is dead? That the era of riff-forward heavy music has fallen off the map in favor of today’s algorithmic approach to manufacturing hits. While I may very well be addressing a phantom, I’d still like to vehemently deny anyone the ability to pursue this line of thinking by pointing at Nothing as the Ideal, the latest long-player recording by Nashville band All Them Witches. There is a small barrier to entry though - you’ll need to free yourself of the constraints imposed by genre overclassification and revel in the spiritual pursuit of creativity. It’s breezy 44 minute runtime is a testament to that tradition of experimentation, honed by the supposedly forgotten forefathers of blues-inspired heavy rock. Throughout their discography All Them Witches have practiced a refreshing disregard for preconceived expectations. To the open-minded, it’s this facet of the band's ideology that injects each new release with a sense of adventure, and this one is no different. Go find a nice pair of headphones.

The stage is set with unsettling ambience as distant church bells ring out to remind all that the hour has arrived. The gate is about to be blown open. A feint bluesy riff recalls places once visited on Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, but that facade crumbles with a punchy chug that imitates nothing else in their discography. The drums hold down a familiar rhythmic intensity, but the context here has shifted. It’s as though time spent touring with Mastodon and Primus has imbued the songs with a newfound heft. The howling slide guitar gymnastics are still here but they’re paired with some absolutely crushing licks. By standard convention All Them Witches have never been definable as a metal band, but you wouldn’t know it at the onset of “Enemy of My Enemy.” This is a heaviness that’s been brandished to suit the style of an adept three piece in lock step. Following the self-titled ATW, the band opted to drop the keyboards for a more minimalist approach. The result of that shift is now on full display. On “See You Next Fall” each musician is afforded the space to playfully explore a hypnotic bassy groove. The result is a track that elicits the experience of swaying in a crowded hot dark bar, drink in hand. (Maybe next fall?) The cohesion between each band member has never been tighter. While I appreciate the effect of the keys on Dying Surfer and Lightning at the Door, successfully calling to mind classic 70s staples, their omission here was a necessary step. The album is sharp and exudes that raw edge you’d expect from a hungry and determined band. The two track run in the middle of the album encapsulates their more mellow and contemplative side, transporting the listener to a distant but natural vantage.

Lyrically All Them Witches have always found a way to infuse an air of great mystery, as though you’ve entered mid story and the teller is some solitary and wise old desert hermit. On the mystical banger “41” Parks heeds, “The great form has no shape, nor evilness upon its face,” perhaps beckoning the unknown destiny awaiting us all. Parks continues to progress as a vocalist, wielding a dynamic blend of soulful croons and punkish aplomb. I considered his effort on their previous release to be his best performance yet, but he may have topped it on this one. The album closes with their most ambitious track to date. With “Rats in Ruin” All Them Witches have crafted a 9+ minute haunting melody that builds seamlessly to a surreal and startling crescendo. It’s the kind of closer that reshapes the entire experience that preceded it; the kind that insists on repeat listens.

All Them Witches may not be the most technical band you’ll encounter, but what’s clear is they don’t want to be. Time and time again they manage to produce a singular and focused vibe that draws the listener into their eerie trip. What’s more, this album provides plenty of evidence that they are capable of galloping full steam ahead when they want to. This is a band that is finding ways to branch outwards, and this record serves as another prominent sign post along the hazy shores of a turbulent creative ocean. I don’t know what else you could possibly hope for in 2020 from a rock band. That’s the ideal.


user ratings (76)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Inoculaeted
September 14th 2020


390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome band. They made the album I always hoped they would make by leaning a little heavier this time around.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
September 14th 2020


21288 Comments


Great rev man, still gotta get on this

Digging: Iress - Flaw

Sunnyvale
September 15th 2020


1769 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I need to check out this band, nice review

Kole
September 15th 2020


322 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I thought he was saying "no shame nor evilness"

Inoculaeted
September 15th 2020


390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the pos guys. If Apple Music botched the lyrics I might have to make some edits...

A quick google search shows that it’s a line from the Tao Te Ching, so it’s likely intended that way.

farmerobama
September 15th 2020


93 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Album rules. Great write-up!

Digging: Acid Moon and the Pregnant Sun - Speakin' of the Devil

Inoculaeted
September 15th 2020


390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks! I was pretty encouraged by the direction they seemed to be taking with the 1x1 single, but this turned out to be better than expected. Some absolute bangers on this that I cannot wait to hear live...whenever that becomes a thing again.

TallPines
September 15th 2020


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They keep releasing good material. These guys are one of the most consistent units that I know of personally. It seems like the departure of Van Cleave gave them a new headspace to work in, allowing them to explore new sounds (as they have constantly done each release).



Outstanding music

Inoculaeted
September 15th 2020


390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yea I was definitely suspicious of that move but I feel it has paid off on this release. The keys added something to their vibe (Sleeping Through the War especially) but this version is really exciting too.

leon486
September 15th 2020


4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is soo good

Pikazilla
September 15th 2020


12280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was very cool on first listen. Need to dive into the rest of the discography now.

Inoculaeted
September 15th 2020


390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

All are worthy. Interesting twists and turns throughout.

Evok
September 16th 2020


8022 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man this really hittin the spot. Smashing review too pos'd

Digging: Svalbard - When I Die, Will I Get Better?

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2020


5215 Comments


Many of my friends are into these guys and hype them. I have to listen to ATW more seriously.

Digging: Gazpacho - Fireworker

Kole
September 16th 2020


322 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

You do, this band is pretty special.

DavidYowi
September 16th 2020


109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Saw these dudes open for Mastodon & Primus and they kicked ass. I'll give this a shot.

Inoculaeted
September 16th 2020


390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It was definitely weird to see them on a big stage in front of a metal oriented crowd. They crushed it at the one I went to as well, but nothing beats seeing these guys in a smaller venue.

Kole
September 16th 2020


322 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah I saw they opened for Ghost on a European tour. I wonder how well received they were. A lot of people looked pretty put off by them when I saw them open for Mastodon.

Inoculaeted
September 16th 2020


390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Saw them in a few bars before that tour. So excellent. The drummer has that minimal kit he sets real low and beats like a fuckin animal. Vocals are on point live too.

TallPines
September 16th 2020


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I had the chance of seeing them after their release of Lightning at the Door back in 2014 at a small venue here in Montreal. Briefly spoke to Mcleod, the guitarist; very laid back and grounded guy.



They were opening for Windhand on that tour but they pretty much stole the show in my mind.



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