Margarita Witch Cult – Margarita Witch Cult Review

On this most Veridian of weeks, Margarita Witch Cult bursts into your pot den wielding a crème brûlée torch and a fifth of shitty tequila akimbo. The Brummie lads scoff at your bowl, sneer at your bong, and head straight for your dab rig. These aren’t your mellow stoners. No. Margarita Witch Cult is for fans of the murderously occult stylings of Green Lung, Orange Goblin, and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. They’re here to serve up a twisted platter of amphetamines, booze, and pot…and hopefully, scorch a few eyebrows off in the process.

Stoner and proto-metal often become stale with slavish adherence to the iterated riff above all else, often in compositions that drag well beyond their expiration date. I initially feared Margarita Witch Cult would fall into the same camp of rote stoner rock: “Diabolical Influences” would fit perfectly alongside any Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats track, with its coupling of fuzzed-out stomping riffs and singer Scott Vincent’s delivery a near perfect match for Kevin Starrs’ voice. Fortunately, the concerns of a generic stoner clone are quickly allayed by the unexpected breakneck pace of “Death Lurks At Every Turn,” which emerges as Margarita Witch Cult’s evident trademark. Despite clear allusions to their proto and stoner influences with George Casual’s alternatively swinging and plodding beats, Jim Thing’s Butlerian bass runs, and Vincent’s perfectly fuzzy guitar tones, Margarita Witch Cult avoid the ad nauseum repetition and chewy staleness of much stoner by leaning into NWOBHM territory. One might not think that the marriage of two such well-trodden subgenres would produce anything interesting, but the union between different forms of greenies works surprisingly well. Even in situations where the band borders on pastiche for individual parts—the near carbon copy drum intro of “Run to the Hills” on “Be My Witch” is downright audacious—their overall style is clearly their own. The genre-blending means that when Margarita Witch Cult does lean into certain compositional hallmarks of Black Sabbath, such as the bass run/chaotic guitar solo bridge of “Lord of Flies,” it feels both fresh and captivating.

Aiding Margarita Witch Cult in separating themselves from their genre compatriots are their astounding brevity and knack for writing enormous vocal hooks. Margarita Witch Cult’s concision extends to both individual compositions and the album as a whole. “Death Lurks At Every Turn,” for example, serves as both a foreboding harbinger and a hedonistic call to arms in an ultratight package barely surpassing two minutes. The album itself is barely stretched to an astonishingly tight 31 minutes. While this presents some potential problems discussed below, the album crucially never loses its momentum. Margarita Witch Cult’s huge vocal compositions, meanwhile, are a product of their willingness to venture beyond stoner and NWOBHM for inspiration. “Be My Witch,” for example, channels the lyrical and vocal stylings of shock rock progenitors like Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie, culminating in a gang-vocal backed chorus beseeching the titular femme fatale to…er…”Be My Witch.” The Brits even dabble in elements of Southern rock vocal stylings on the chorus of “The Witchfinder Comes,” warning the listener to get out while the getting is good.

Occasionally Margarita Witch Cult pushes brevity to the breaking point. The sub-2 minute duo of “Annihilation” and first instrumental “Theme from Cyclops” risk feeling undeveloped in the case of the former and unnecessary in the case of the latter. Elsewhere the band teases unfulfilled experimentation with Sleep-inspired space psychedelia on “Aradia” to the loose shuffle bridge of closer “Sacrifice.” Ultimately the lack of deeper expeditions into psychedelic realms and potentially extraneous instrumental tracks aren’t a significant problem. While it would be interesting to see what the band could do with more expansive tracks, brevity works in the album’s overall favor. For example, sequencing the two aforementioned sub-2-minute tracks before the comparative epic “Lord of the Flies” serves the band’s vision of crafting a cohesive LP. Moreover, the tacit promises of genre experimentation leave me feeling like the band has room for significant exploration on a sophomore album, rather than worried about unfulfilled creative visions.

I stumbled out of Margarita Witch Cult’s coven with my third eye wide and scarlet, seduced by their diabolical riffs and bewitching choruses. The band’s ability to write concise tracks with massive vocal hooks is impressive, and while their brevity can sometimes work against them, their incorporation of NWOBHM influences sets them apart from other bands in the genre. These Brummie boys make their hometown progenitors proud, and I’ll keep a close eye on their upcoming seance schedule.

Rating: ​3.5/5.0
DR:​ 5 | ​Format Reviewed:​ 320 kbps mp3
Label:Heavy Psych Sounds
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide​: April 21st, 2023

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