In our new monthly feature, which will show up here on the 15th of every month and run over the next few days, I (Angry Metal Guy) will select 5 bands at random (usually those who have followed my directions and have bandcamp accounts) to get blurbed by every member of the AMG staff. The idea is to do at least a bit of our part to point out that the metal underground is still an important part of the world of metal. While we simply don’t have the manpower to produce regular reviews of unsigned bands, this is my attempt at a minor mea culpa if nothing else. So enjoy Angry Metal Guy’s Unsigned Band Rodeo and our fifth and final entry: Witch Ripper!
Witch Ripper is the project of former Iron Thrones bassist Curtis Parker, who has apparently moved to Seattle since the demise of his former, and excellent, band. Witch Ripper is a self-titled 4 song EP “with a stoner soul,” as Mr. Franquelli puts it. The riffs are thick and fat, with Curtis doing most of the instrumentation. But like Bill Pulmonary Embolism, the drums were recorded by Pete from Iron Thrones and BPE and was recorded at Signaturetone Studios in Minneapolis. Curt’s back in Seattle and has a full band now, so they’re gigging and being rad somewhere on the west coast. Go check ’em out. You can hear this EP over at Bandcamp, or you can visit his Facebook page here — the EP was self-released on November 30th, 2012.
Angry Metal Guy: Witch Ripper, one of the disparate shards left over from Iron Thrones, continues a bit in the band’s latter steps; the riffy, sludgy feel, but has abandoned the Opeth vibe that I loved about Iron Thrones entirely (bye, Steve!). While sludgy and heavy — with serious nods to Crowbar, Mastodon, High on Fire and, at its best, to Black Sabbath — early listens garnered mostly irritation at Curt’s vocals, which grate after a while and causes my AMADD (that’s Angry Metal Attention Deficit Disorder for the uninitiated) to kick in. Still, Witch Ripper grew on me with subsequent listens, and while the vocals are the big downside for me, the riffing and the groove are too cool to ignore. The highlight for me is when it kicks it Motörhead-style at the opening of “Ice Wizard,” and the “Comfortably Numb” quote in “Queen of the Green.” Witch Ripper‘s strength, though, is the riffs. Not a bad one on here. 3.5/5.0
Steel Druhm: Dirty, rough-hewn stoner/doom from Seattle and the easiest comparison point is High on Fire or Orange Goblin with a bit of The Melvins thrown in. It’s plenty riffy with a nicely raw tone and the interesting vocals that fall between Kirk Windstein and Lemmy. They have some writing chops and the songs sound mature, well thought out and have just the right amount of ballsy swagger. It’s aggressive and zippy enough to hold your attention, they can rock the big doom riffs when called for and things can even get a bit emotional at times. This is the type shit you would hear at a biker bar where fisticuffs and alcohol poisoning are the only menu items and I like that. Bruising, ugly music with some potential and I could stand to hear some more. 3.0/5.0
Madam X: Hankering for some oddly soupy, crushing, doom-laden misery? Seattle based Witch Ripper deliver a deliciously fuzzy, stoner-doominess that initially reminds me of indie rockers Silversun Pickups but goes on to contort its muscular body into something more like a mix of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and the macabre Hellwell. Witch Ripper kick up the fuzzy and soupy aspects a notch on “Hydra” and “Ice Wizard”, both tracks are plenty catchy and have a pleasing and very distinct Uncle Acid party lurking in their underbelly. My favourite track ended up being the meandering “Queen of the Green.” It’s got a neat chuggy guitar riff that perfectly highlights the oddly delicate solo around the 5 minute mark. I’m interested to see what Witch Ripper add to this EP, at 4 songs and totalling a nice tidy 19 minutes it sounds like they’re half way there! 3.0/5.0.
Fisting Andrew Golota: Witch Ripper bears a surface resemblance to more recent Mastodon, with a heavy helping of Crowbar. Curtis Parker sings like a more soulful Kirk Windstein, and could develop into a unique voice, given time. If you like the heavy sludgy stuff, give this 4-song EP a shot, and keep an eye on these guys in the future. 3.0/5.0
Happy Metal Guy: Play this beast and find groovy, druggish riffs entering and intoxicating your bloodstream through your ears. Then, find yourself jumping around and bobbing your head up and down. Next, pass out and subsequently wake up with no memory of how you ended up in your dog’s corner of the backyard. As if those awesome riffs are not enough, face-scrunching guitar solos are utilized occasionally as well. The biggest flaw of this EP is, of course, the under-utilization of guitar solos. Great imagery conjured by the track titles, too. 3.0/5.0
Natalie Zed: This self-titled record is a sludgy, intensely distorted and fuzzed out record that nonetheless has an energy and drive behind it. The vocals remind me strongly of Scott Angelacos (Bloodlet, more recently Junior Bruce), and the thick, fat guitar works matches that bellowing rasp extremely well. This isn’t a meandering, spacey stoner record full of fat easy jams, but a tense and tight record, one with a journey and an agenda, constantly pushing forward. “Space Debris” has a strong note of loneliness woven into it, and “Hydra” has a battle-ready gallop that gets the blood pumping. Only four tracks long, this self-titled EP makes the listener long for more, something more substantial, but that hunger for more material means that Witch Ripper have something compelling to offer. 3.5/5.0
Alex Franquelli: Rock music has lead us to love. However then, one day, we realised that songs could be used for more noble purposes and Blue Cheer gave us the summertime blues and bands like Witch Ripper. Their powerful grasp of blues chords might sound strikingly similar to the likes of Baroness and Torche, if you listen close enough. And the proggy edges of their music could remind the listener of the likes of Mastodon and High On Fire. But it’s all played with a stoner soul: one which pays a heavy tribute to a virtual scene that includes Kvelertak, Black Tusk and Doomriders. So, let’s all raise our half-empty glasses to the mighty Order of the Riff. And may His Majesty Iommi have pity of all of us. For we do not know what we are doing and we gladly prefer it this way. 4.0/5.0