Witchseeker – Scene of the Wild Review

Wild and rowdy speed metal from Singapore with a penchant for earwormy hooks? Don’t threaten me with a good time! And Witchseeker is all about letting the good times roll on sophomore platter Scene of the Wild (ESL Slip o’ the Month). Taking heavy inspiration from early 80s speed acts Like Oz and Raven and newer bands like High Spirits and especially Enforcer, Witchseeker aim for that sweet spot between manic speed and rocking party anthems that stick on first exposure. And for the most part, Scene of the Wild is a testament to their sweet spot detection skills. This is some seriously goofy, cheesy but impossible to resist metal with tongue planted firmly in cheek and fist proudly thrust in the air. If you can’t smell cheap beer and sweaty leather by the third tune, you either have COVID or simply aren’t metal (or fun, same difference).

If you ever heard the classic Oz album Fire in the Brain then what greets you on the opening title track will feel like Old Homes Week. It’s all jagged, rough riffing and slightly hysterical, highly unpolished vocals with a Devil may care attitude and horns liberally thrown. It’s almost like AC/DC hooked up to a extra potent power source and it’s got that same kind of simplistic, hard rocking charm you can’t easily dismiss. In short, it’s a rip roaring celebration of all things metal. The same exact template is used to craft the rest of the album and cuts like “Rock This Night Away” and “Lust in the Dust” come across as knuckleheaded odes to beers and brawls at first but before you know it, you’re hooked into the partyline regardless of fees charged per minute.

All ten tracks are enjoyable, catchy as hell examples of hard rock mixed with early speed metal, and the raw, unpolished delivery makes them all the more festive. “Be Quick or Be Dead” is a sloppy, frantic roller coaster ride with a big chorus, “Sin City” sounds like Audrey Horne on helium and meth, and “Tokyo Nights” sounds like Diamonds era Enforcer with less control and a bigger cheese platter. My personal favorite is the somewhat epic “Candle in the Dark” where the band stretches themselves a bit, approaching Riot City levels of glorious overkill and over-the-top-itude. With nary a stinker among the cheddar, this is 37 minutes of hard charging, butt shaking entertainment. With the short run time, they could have tacked on 2 more cuts of this quality and still won the Steel of Approval.™ keeping the songs in that critical 3-5 minute window also aids the medicine going down smoothly. It’s like an ice cold Budweiser on a hot summer day.

The keg party is piloted through the whiskey circus by the rockin’ with Dokken guitar charms of Nick Stormbringer (his real name, I’m assuming) and Brandon Brandy (this seems possibly fake). They pull off a lovely collection of elegantly simple, highly enjoyable riffs that move the anthems along with force and power to spare. There’s enough manic energy here to light up a small town and the solos are appropriately hyper-kinetic and unhinged. There’s also a very busy bass presence courtesy of Sheikh Spitfire (definitely not a real name). And now we come to the vocals. Mr. Spitfire handles those too and he will be a subject of some love and likely more hate. He has an unrefined, somewhat high pitched delivery that won’t be for everyone. To my ears it’s entirely suited to the speed metal core of their sound, and his enthusiastic if unschooled style adds to the rowdy appeal of the overall package. Would this sound better with a more traditionally gifted vocalist? Maybe. Is it a big bag o’ fun as is? Yes.

Scene of the Wild is the kind of album you turn up, leave on and rock out to. It’s not going to challenge you or make you think, but it’ll probably make you drink, and that’s way better anyway. The best compliment I can give Witchseeker is that halfway through the third song on Scene of the Wild I was buying their first album on Bandcamp. Fun begets more fun, and speed adds life, so live life in the fast and wild lane. Scene, heard, appreciated.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dying Victims
Websites: witchseeker.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/witchseekersg
Releases Worldwide: March 26th, 2021

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