Toward the back of the Big Book of Metal Ingredients there is a little known concoction. It calls for one part Saint Vitus, one part Cathedral and one part Necrophagia. To that mix, add creepy church organs, horror movie samples and trippy/psychedelic flourishes. Finish by generously seasoning with magic weed, baking heavily and voila! You get Acid Witch and Stoned is an apt title indeed since this will give you a sore neck and a serious case of the munchies. This is the second album by these death/doom/stoner weirdos from Michigan and they stay true to the odd sound pioneered on their 2008’s debut Witchtanic Hallucinations and provide another wack0, tongue-in-cheek trip through metal and reefer madness. While I highly doubt this will find a very big audience, it’s a pretty entertaining, heavy yet silly slab o death/doom and unlike anything else out there.
Sporting a more immediate, stripped down and catchy style than the debut, Stoned keeps all the key elements of their sound intact and all the sludgy, deathy goodness is there in spades. You get super low, guttural,and effects-laden vocals, big, heavy, distorted doom riffs and psychedelic and horror movie keyboards to add a unique flavor. On top of that, Stoned features a plethora of odd samples from some overly serious documentary about Satan worship and the ins and outs of the satanic mass. At times it’s pretty creepy and at others its just funny. When the elements Acid Witch tries to incorporate all gel, the result is some great, highly addictive songs like “Trick or Treat,” “Thundering Hooves,” “Sabbath of the Undead” and my personal favorite “If Hell Exists.” All of these are fun, rockin and rollin death/doom that will make even a jaded Angry Metal Guy crack a smile for a fleeting moment or two.
However, Stoned gets held back and let down by some inconsistent songwriting and some tracks seem forced and a little incomplete (“Live Forever,” “Metal Movie Marijuana Massacre”), while several other tracks border on theft of material. For example, “Witchfynder Finder” borrows not so gently from Cathedral’s “Hopkins (the Witchfinder General”) and the weird segue track “Whispers in the Dark” veers way too close to “Danse Macabre” by the mighty Celtic Frost (and concludes with something that sounds lifted right from King Diamond’s “Halloween”). Maybe it’s meant as a good natured homage and I’m being too cynical, maybe not, who knows? Another problem is the muddy, soupy mix, which prevents the good riffs from being as huge as they should be and for a doom/death band, that’s a big handicap. Between that and the goofy vibe on parts of the album, it can give the impression of being a throw-away parody and that’s unfortunate because some of this is really solid and enjoyable. In a way they’re like the slacker pothead brother to Hooded Menace, with whom they formerly shared a band member.
Is this a novelty act in some ways? Maybe it is, but metal is allowed to be fun and Stoned is just that. It’s heavy, freaky and at times silly, but it goes by quickly and entertains. It may lack some of the punch the debut had, but it’s still worth checking out if you want to hear something a little different. There are far worse ways to get your doom on. Now, where are those potato chips and brownies?