Here is one pretty fun witch hunt and witchcraft-themed album, which doesn’t always have the most interesting or memorable music but does have its moments.
The first track is precisely named Witching Hour, and is a pretty good introduction to the album. It’s a thrashy death metal track with raspy vocals, a catchy chorus, and some implacably fast riffs. It really hooks you into the album.
You hear it and immediately want to hear more, and it’s a pretty good indicator of what you’ll find on other tracks: witchcraft, death metal vocals, catchy and fast thrash/speed riffs, and a few other sounds. For example, Don’t Burn the Witch is also a fast track with raspy vocals and really energetic riffs, that sound like something from the 80s. It may be too similar to Witching Hour, but I can’t help but enjoy it, it’s one of the most fun-sounding tracks on the album. A First of Burning Coffins has awesome speed and screams, great call-and-response vocals, and it might just be the best example of the album’s wild energy and irresistible fun.
The album’s overall sound is a mixture of 80s thrash with death metal and witchcraft. In addition to the main music, there’s a lot of space given to extra sounds, like footsteps, doors, and there’s even a whole track consisting of dialogues in various languages about witch hunting. Pretty creepy, eerie stuff. All of this combined gives the album an identity of its own, and works pretty well. That’s especially true on the death/thrash monsters Churchburner and Popecrusher and its relentless speed, the slow and threatening Left Hands March and Crucifix and Candles where the growls seem to be chanting a bunch of Satanic slogans and making creepy noises. The title track is also a little slower and eerier, feeling strange and almost witchy.
The formula does not necessarily work on every track. Storm of the Unborn has pretty good vocals but starts losing some energy. It’s not as epic as the title would suggest. I guess the problem is that this album is essentially meant to be a tribute to satanic thrash and very early death metal from the 80s, which unfortunately makes the album sound like a copy of pretty much everyone in that scene. Even songs I like, like Churchburner, sound like something from Entombed’s first recordings. Crucifix also sounds a little like a heavier Slayer song. That’s still a pretty good style to copy, but it makes the album sound unfortunately derivative, as it’s not really good enough to stand out despite its lack of originality. Other tracks simply don’t have the fun, infectious energy of the first two songs, and of Crucifix.
This is an album that has some pretty good ideas, but doesn’t do enough with them. Like I said, the witchcraft theme gives it an identity of its own, and it just happens to be a subject I’m obsessed with… But even considering my own peculiar obsession, I thought this album wasn’t as good as it could have been. It had the potential to do more than it did, and I thought only a few of the songs were really that remarkable. It wasn’t a chore to listen to, it had some pretty good parts, but it wasn’t that exceptional.
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