Hey, turns out that Witchery is releasing a new record in a few days. Far be it from me to not review this monster of a super group, especially given the news that got everyone pretty worked up: ex-Marduk vocalist Legion joined the band on vocals. Not only does this cement the band as serious super group (now sporting members or former members from Opeth, Seance, Bloodbath, Arch Enemy, Marduk, Devian, Spiritual Beggar, The Haunted, and Satanic Slaughter), but it adds a well-known quantity to the band. Turns out that Swedish scene is a tad bit inbred. But does this kind of caliber, and a back catalogue of well loved records mean that Witchery will hit home anew with their deathy brand of thrash metal in 2010?
Yeah, no shit. Of course, they do. Witchkrieg is a thrashfest filled with powerful riff after awesome riff and songs that really fucking rock. And what were you expecting? It’s been four years since their last kick in the teeth Don’t Fear the Reaper, and while Witchkrieg isn’t nearly as long (clocking in at only 35 minutes), it certainly sports the same quality of writing (and maybe even better). Tracks like “Hellhound” and “The God Who Fell to Earth” are pure beer and horns thrash metal that make you want to tear shit up, and tracks like “Wearer of Wolf’s Skin” and “The Reaver” sport riffs that should make any of these neo-thrash n00bs stand and stare in awe at how it should be done.
While overall the quality of this record is super solid, I’d like to say a couple things. Once again, Witchkrieg is littered with big name guest appearances including, most notably, Kerry King from Slayer, and these are some of the weakest moments on the album. King’s solo on the opening track is absolutely classic; a worthless thrash solo of the most banal kind that ruins the moment with its divebomby patheticness. While Gary Holt and Lee Altus from Exodus fair a bit better, still, the extra soloing almost seems unnecessary and like a bit of a letdown at times. Honestly, of the guest guitarists on the record, it is really only Andy Laroque (King Diamond) who shines in his role, though Death Angel‘s Jim Durkin threw in a pretty good solo as well.
The other complaint that I have about this is the very, very pro/modern sounding production which, while technically good, has a bit of that “this isn’t even real” kind of feel that drives me so nuts. This is a serious sin among Swedish bands right now, that they’ve got some drum replacement issues (though I don’t know if it’s actually worse than on the last record, to be honest). There is just a sense that this record is over produced, which interferes with the pure thrash attack that Witchery absolutely should be. It’s particularly noticeable on the slower parts that seem to just drag along without the kind of power and punch that they should have at times.
Still, if the only two things that I complain about is that the production is overdone and that two of the guest guitar solos are pretty weak, it should give you an impression of how good this record is. It is the perfect follow up to an excellent Don’t Fear the Reaper, and it’s going to make the fans very happy. Witchery has showed up to play again and given a fantastic show. Witchkrieg is a must-buy for fans of thrash, Swedish death metal and anyone who likes good heavy metal.