Title: Under the Witching Cross
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Release date: 10 May 2019
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
Bewitcher! The logo on the cover of their latest release called “Under the Witching Cross” tells that they mean business. Crosses upside down, old-school feel to the letters. The whole album just breathes that uneasy feeling that people got from browsing the LP-stands in the record stores ages ago looking for cool music by choosing the coolest looking album cover. Evil is present! And evil in the artwork usually means a good chance of cool music. And if not, it’s a nice addition to the collection to spook your friends with. But hey, this is 2019. Let’s dig in, shall we?
“Savage Lands of Satan” takes off with an instant run down memory lane for all you old-school metal fans out there. Venom meets Motörhead meets early Metallica and Mercyful Fate. Blackened speed-metal sounding just like it should have 30 years ago. I’m sure this song must be an old classic? No?
This strong band from Portland, Oregon, US of A, didn’t sleep throughout the classes of metal history. I’m sure Matt Litton (Guitars, vocals) has a master’s degree on the subject. Everything in here is just as it should be! You know what to expect after the first song but you probably didn’t expect it to be this good. Is everything good in this genre must have been recorded ages ago already? Couldn’t be farther from the truth, apparently.
So far so good, but oh so evil. Satan is the lord throughout the whole album and the mix of tasteful riffage ala Judas Priest, the blackened vocals, the thunderous drums and bass (Andrew Mercil) really make the whole package make sense instead of becoming something cringy. The songs are extremely well written but have enough punk attitude and simplicity to make it serious without getting too serious. This record is fun, in a very good way. You want to headbang and raise beers in the air while doing the horns.
“Hexenkrieg”, “Under the Witching Cross” and “Heathen Woman” further cements the fact that this record just keeps rounding out the kick-ass tracks with choruses that is so made to be played live that it’s almost ridiculous. And the same feeling keeps going throughout the rest of the album, handing out instant classic after instant classic with tasteful riffs and drums played just as big and sloppy as they should be to make the middle finger attitude really show. If I didn’t know better, this album could have been recorded live in the studio. That’s how “true” it sounds and it sure is a breeze of old fresh air in these days of quantizing and auto-tuning.
Nope! We are back in 1979-1983 again when Satan was really scary, and dudes wearing leather and studs on stage were something genuinely disturbing to the public. 30 minutes of blackened NWOBHM 30 years too late, but oh so relevant it feels. 8/10. Julia Katrin
8/10 To Greatness and Glory
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.