Witchsorrow dig deep into doom’s muck for murky, world-ending ‘God Curse Us’

You’d like to think that we’ve come far as a society, as a people, when we consider that most parts of the world do not hunt down women and try them for witchcraft any longer. But really, when you consider the entire lifespan of our planet (people who think it’s only a couple-thousand years old and that there were no dinosaurs, you views are not included), it wasn’t all that long ago that women were put up on a stake and burned to death for really ridiculous things that were chalked up to witchcraft. I wonder how some of accusing throngs would react to, say, the Kardashians. Burn the witches! Actually…

Not to go all socio-political on your asses, but, at least in the United States, we still prevent people who love each other from marrying, we’d still prefer to see some classes of people not be able to be treated if they come down with medical conditions, and we’d still like to ban people from our neighborhoods based on their country of origin or religion, so have we really come all that far? We still call out witches on a daily basis. We just call them something different now.

When U.K. doom band Witchsorrow emerged in 2010 with their self-titled debut album, they probably left some people amused by their fixation on the history of witches in our midst and the trials that led to many of their executions. I’m sure all were contested fairly. Just like I’m sure every law enforcement officer in Arizona who pulls someone over because he/she suspects a person may be an illegal immigrant will do so purely on professional and security reasons. So yeah, they drew upon a rather hate-filled, weird era of our history, but if you take the trials they recreate and retell, you can apply them today. Who would be the modern-day version of Elizabeth Clarke? Maybe it would take more than one individual to fill that role, but it can apply. Therefore, Witchsorrow’s content was quite relevant to what’s going on today.

The band is back with their second record “God Curse Us,” a collection that remains loyal to the Electric Wizard/Cathedral/Black Sabbath path, but also adds a bit more of their own personality to the mix. Also, while their songs still grasp topics such as persecution and death, it sounds like they’ve shifted toward our own as a race, and not so much those of the witches. This is a dark, no-nonsense affair that seems to have demise lurking at every turn, and Witchsorrow certainly do not weave a sort of happy-ending, overcome-all way out that lets you breathe a sigh of relief. We’re pretty much going down, with no helping hand to lift us from the abyss.

If you were along for the ride on Witchsorrow’s debut, what you’ll find here is basically the same, only with more refined songwriting and some musical twists and turns. This thing is delivered slowly and brutally, and vocalist Necroskull typically delivers his words in an unwavering tone that doesn’t exactly bristle with life but fits the music nonetheless. When he growls, that’s when he really comes alive as a monstrous singer, though I don’t have any issues personally with his clean vocals. They’re rather plain, but they work just fine. His guitar work is bluesy and smoking, and the rhythm section of bassist Emily Witch and drummer David Wilbrahammer keep the low end muddy, bruising, and thick.

Tearing open this record is “Aurora Atra,” a buzzing, foggy serving of doom that keeps things sludgy and calculating, as you’d expect from this band and genre, but eventually they snap into a gallop, throatier vocals erupt, and a slick supporting melody line travels underneath. That leads into the killer title track, constructed in much the same way with a slower intro and that eventually erupts into heaviness. The chorus is simple but should put a smirk on your face as Necroskull takes Tiny Tim’s innocent, hopeful words from “A Christmas Carol” and drives them to hell as he yowls, “God curse us, every one.” “Masters of Nothing” follows the same suit as the first two songs, taking its time to sink into your pore and then ripping things apart about six minutes in. It hits a pretty nasty groove, with Necroskull shouting, “The kings are dead!” “Ab Antiquo” lets you breathe a bit, as it’s a ghostly, lurking interlude, and it trickles nicely into “Megiddo,” a hulking track soaked in Armageddon, as its Sabbathy, nasty drubbing tempo grounds you into pulp. Then “Breaking the Lore” pops out of nowhere, bursting wide open with a fast, violent pace, a real sense of urgency, and mad dash across the rocks. “Den of Serpents” brings things to a naturally bloody, mucky conclusion, with trippy guitar work, shouts of, “You are cursed!” and a storm-bringing jam session that lets the song and disc burn out nicely. The track doesn’t even seem half as long as its 12-minute running time.

Witchsorrow’s sophomore album certainly builds on the promise of their debut, and they’re growing enough as musicians and songwriters to indicate they have quite a future ahead. I’d still like to hear them add even more personal touches to their music and put their own unique stamp on this style of doom metal, but they’re doing an admirable job establishing a strong early catalog. I think this band has a masterpiece in them, and I look forward to them figuring out how to make that come to life.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/witchsorrowdoom

To buy the album, go here: http://www.indiemerchstore.com/item/14953/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/english/content.php

And here: http://riseaboverecords.com/