Witchcryer – When Their Gods Come for You Review

I recall being quite taken with Witchcryer’s 2017 debut Cry Witch when I stumbled across it in the rancid promo sump. A product of Las Cruces, Earthen Grave, and The Living Fields members, it had a lively doom rock sound akin to Castle and Jex Thoth and frontwoman Suzy Bravo was a force to be reckoned with. In hindsight, however, I overrated the album as it was very short on content, and though its high points are great, it has downslopes and filler too, which is a bad sign for such a short album. Nonetheless, I was still excited to get my hands on their sophomore album When Their Gods Come for You and see what the last few years had done to their sound. At its core, it’s still the same type of doom rock powered by strong vocals and dark moods, though the band does stretch their wings for a few long-form, adventurous compositions. The Castle and Jex Thoth comparisons are still apt with plenty of 60s/70s influences creeping around, and like last time, there are high points. But what of the remainder?

As on Cry Witch, things open with a flourish via “The Devil and the Deep Blue See.” It borrows the sultry, smoky ambiance of Messa, though it packs more grit and street cred as Ms. Bravo reacquaints us with her top-notch vocals, balancing allure and danger perfectly. The song is heavy but slinky, smooth but rough, and it says much about what Witchcryer are capable of when things gel. The riffs are just doomy enough, the mood is perfectly dark, and the hooks run deep. “Sisyphus (Holy Roller)” is more upbeat and rocking, foregoing the doom elements with positive results, and “Nemesis, the Destroyer” shows what can be achieved when Bravo goes all in vocally. The band reveals some new colors on the epic “Quetzalcoatl,” channeling Mesoamerican myth into a rousing occult rocker with big hooks and a huge Castle vibe. The chorus is a winner, the riffs pop, and the song demonstrates serious growth from a writing perspective.

It’s on the final two tracks where Witchcryer really take flight and reach a whole new level. “Blackfoot Creation Story/Spirit Power” is a 7-plus minute psychedelic trip channeling loads of 60s/70s acid rock energy and pulsing, spiritual energy. It’s a strangely captivating entity, at times touching on the weirdness of Jane’s Addiction but through the dirty 70s lens of The Obsessed, and things wind out with a dramatic spoken word/prayer segment with Bravo intoning homages to the gods backed by moody, 70s-centric guitar work. It’s quite the wild ride. The closing title track is very different but no less enthralling, returning to the Messa-esque cabaret doom heard on the opening cut. It’s a darkly languid song full of understated emotion and beautifully lead-work that carries you to distant, alien places. Bravo once again shows her worth, keeping you locked in with a righteous performance. At times this one reminds me of the recent Jess and the Ancient Ones opus which I sadly missed my chance to review.1 Though both these songs crack the 7-minute mark, neither feels overly long and both leave you wanting more. In fact, so good are these pieces that some of the other selections pale in comparison. “I Rise” in particular feels a bit tame despite a sweet lead riff that sounds like it was purloined from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. At 47 minutes the album feels concise enough and the production is very good; warm and old-timey with a fat bass presence and a satisfying drum sound.

Witchcryer would be a much-diminished beast without the vocal acumen of Suzy Bravo. She has an earthy, gritty delivery that works perfectly for this kind of material and these new compositions allow her to test her limits and explore. She’s got a powerful presence and she’s especially impressive on the big set-piece tracks, though she elevates everything she touches. Pairing her with the tasteful guitar-work of Jason Muxlow almost guarantees interesting results and he steps up his game with some high-level playing spanning several genres and decades. The bass presence from Marilyn is a big element to the sound and he does a great job as well.

When Their Gods Come for You is superior to their debut and will have greater staying power due to its interesting and diverse range of material. The writing has matured and the band’s risks and experiments all worked out in their favor. This is occult/doom rock with an edge and genuine charisma. It’s also quite a grower, sinking its tendrils deeper with every spin. In a nutshell, attend this Witch trial.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 1411 kbps
Label: Ripple Music
Websites: witchcryer.com | witchcryer.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/witchcryer
Releases Worldwide: August 20th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. It will get a big, fat TYMHM feature in the fullness of time because it’s very good.
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