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Cry Witch

Self-released (2017)
Rating: 8/10

Witchcryer’s debut opus is a rattling lump of doomy rock ‘n’ roll straight out of Austin, Texas. “Female fronted doom metal again?!” I hear you cry. Well, give this one a chance because this is more of a bare bones ride into black ‘n’ roll and based upon a sturdy foundation of Marilyn’s rollicking bass, Javi Moctezuma’s steady percussive drum beat, Jason Muxlow’s driving guitar sound and Suzy Bravo’s effortless banshee wail.

But before you start thinking this is gonna be your, what has become, stereotypical female-fronted occult metal, what we actually get is a ballsy bar-room doom rock record nodding more to the likes of Saint Vitus, Candlemass, Count Raven, Witchfinder General and, of course, Black Sabbath.

Cry Witch is a rather simple record offering up nine tracks, one of which, ‘Embryo (Instructions)’, is a short instrumental and one being a decent cover of Witchfinder General’s namesake song ‘Witchfinder General’.

From opening title track, through to ‘Ricochet’ and the closer ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, we find ourselves immersed in a very rewarding, yet no frills opus full of catchy hooks and, above all, Suzy Bravo’s rather simple yet effective soulful bark. There’s no hint here of a band trying to be overly satanic or psychedelic, and that’s probably how some of the best so-called “doom” metal bands worked, by being themselves. And while the influences are there for all to hear, songs such as the aching ‘The Preying Kind’ provide a rather welcoming trudge away from the worrying trend of acts attempting to recreate Hammer Horror Gothicness. This is just stand-up doom rock.

I’ve been following these guys since 2016, and I just love the almost laid bare, stripped back pounding nature. There’s nothing untoward to be suffocated by, just an all-round feeling of blackness yet, if possible, warmth amidst the lumbering guitar sound and percussive hisses.

However, don’t cast this off as your usual slow-motion doom metal affair, that opening title track is a cool, breezy head nodder, as is the groovier trudge of ‘Ma Kali’, which for some probably leans closer toward what some genre obsessives may deem “stoner rock”. But either way, it is a solid stomp to get the foot tapping and the crows at the window.

‘Great Divide’ is another impressive tune, a slow builder offering up Suzy Bravo’s more haunting tone as she mourns, “Standing still at the edge of me, blue boy and the deep dark sea, staring into the abyss of my keep. Golden noose tied around his neck, cursing tongues underneath his breath, fairly certain this will be his end here”.

Again I’m reminded of Candlemass in parts; maybe it’s the simple melancholy as the guitars majestically flow? But it’s not just a back-to-basics opus, Witchcryer aren’t afraid to throw in a few curveballs when the time is right. Hints of melancholic psychedelia may drift in, and one can’t help but warm (or jig) to the closing Lapis Philosophorum’; a gorgeous ballad best enjoyed around a flickering fire in some vast, distant woodland.

Cry Witch really is an enjoyable heavy metal album. A gem in fact, and one that should not be overlooked amidst the glut of same-sounding ghouls.

Neil Arnold

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