Doom metal has a long and storied history, and its makeup out of the gates really doesn’t match everything that’s being made now. That’s because the sub-genre has been stretched and changed so much over the years that this beast is much different than what we knew when Black Sabbath first started turning crosses.
Calgary-based doom quartet Witchstone is one of the bands trying to dig a straight path from doom’s roots to more modern versions of the sound. On “Mortal Fear of Infinity,” the band’s second record, Witchstone stay true to more traditional aspects of doom metal and pay their homage. But they also push forward and meld with the classic touches a rougher, grimier edge that easily could remind listeners of Electric Wizard. The band—guitarist/vocalist Sean Edwards, bassist/vocalist Andrew Sanderson, guitarist Ian Lemke, keyboardist/percussionist Joleen Toner, and drummer Marcello Castronuovo—mix psychedelic vibes, trudging fury, and crushing vocals in a manner that makes the music sound both traditional and fresh. These four tracks, that all push their time limits, are enveloping and intoxicating, making for music that should help them find a larger following.
“The Voidmouth” not only is a tremendous song title, but it’s the noisy, noir-splashed opener that greets you on this record. Winds blow before the guitars light up and set everything ablaze, with gurgly singing and growling pushing through into blistering territory. The song is brutal and menacing, later trickling into cold pools before hypnotic guitars assume control. From that point, your head continues to spin, and the band pulls into “Chrono Shift.” There, insects chirp away, while the band unloads a drubbing pace that pelts with bruises. Psyche keys simmer, while nasty howls and wild shrieks take over, and the guitars continue to play games with your mind. Leads built, veering right toward Sabbath territory, while organs blare and drag the song to its end.
“Estuaries” runs a healthy 8:57, and it slips in with warped guitars and damaged vocals that go for your brain and eardrums. Spooky organs return to bring ghostly apparitions, while the guitars boil over, dumping heat and humidity into the general area. The track heads into a bluesy swagger, as noise gathers at the horizon and spreads across the land, and strange chants climb underneath your skin and fill you with dread. Closer “Maniac of Dane Hil” is the longest cut at 10:37, with the song starting playfully before being overcome by echo-rich guitars and ripping playing. The bands crunches and blasts from there, with blues-splashed guitars spilling, a brief calm sending chills, and a smashing, steady final section hammering home the dread.
Witchstone’s clubbing intensity and smoke-filled aura are apparent on “Mortal Fear of Infinity,” and this band is a hidden gem still sitting beneath the surface waiting for discovery. This force has the goods to unite graybeards and younger audiences under the same banner with their style that stretches across the ages. This band is sitting there, under the radar, waiting to be spotted, so don’t sleep on them before their following ignites, as it should.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/witchstone
To buy the album, go here: https://witchstone.bandcamp.com/