Doom destroyers Witchsorrow revisit past tortures, call for world’s end on ‘Hexenhammer’

Photo by Ester Segarra

It’s great to be able to look at modern times and know that humankind no longer freaks out over things they don’t understand or people who are different from them, and we definitely don’t try to hurt or strip power from those people. Nope, not us. We’ve come a long way the past few centuries, and we’d never think to persecute someone with whom we don’t share the same way of life.

Obviously, that’s fucking bullshit, and in many ways, we’re no better than we were when we were burning and destroying so-called witches. The members of UK-based doom warrior Witchsorrow haven’t forgotten about it over the course of their four full-length records, the latest being the massive “Hexenhammer.” That term comes from another name given to Henricis Institoris’ infamous Malleus Maleficarum, which translated means “hammer of the witch.” That text essentially spelled out the means of torture and extermination of witches, yet another winning moment for Catholic faith. This has been a subject visited before by this band—guitarist/vocalist Necroskull, bassist Emily Witch, and drummer Wilbrahammer—and it leads to seven meaty tracks delivered in the faithful vein of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, and Electric Wizard. In addition, Necroskull pours into this record his frustration over the world still not having ended, so you can imagine the fury is blood thick.

“Maleficus” starts the record, a slow-driving instrumental that bubbles over and bleeds right into the ominous title track, which unloads Sabbathy riffs and blistering doom, as one might expect. “It’s heresy, the work of god,” Necroskull wails, while soloing bleeds over, and wild shouts erupt. The band starts bludgeoning at a glacial pace, with the leads melting and leaving a trail of liquid metal. “The Devil’s Throne” is fast and punchy, with Necroskull shouting, “Fall to your knees, the tyrant is here!” The track is thick and fiery, with the soloing blinding as it takes off, the band later chugging so hard your chest is nearly crushed, and everything coming to a smothering end. “Demons of the Mind” mangles in drone, driving slowly through heavy riffs, and Necroskull even unleashes some melodic singing. The soloing scorches the flesh, while the room turns humid, and the heat spreads out from there. The band begins to pound savagely, with coarse yells, and the whole thing spiraling into hell.

“Eternal” is menacing as hell, with Necroskull wailing about “staring into the void again.” The track has a bit of a different approach to it, making for a change of pace, as the verses are catchy, and the pace thrashes. “Spit into the face of fear!” Necroskull howls, while the song speeds up again, cutting through and sludging out. “The Parish” packs sinewy riffs and an evil, bluesy haze that washes over the song. The track gets violent and muddy, with the guitars burning and smoking, and the vocals punishing your senses. The back-end slips into a psychedelic fog before it fades away. Closer “Like Sisyphus” boils at first, slowly building its doomy fires. Necroskull’s shouts remind of Tom G. Warrior’s, with the tempo smashing, and the soloing sparking flames. The track then lights up and sends rocks flying, as every element goes off, and the band mauls you senselessly as the assault bleeds away.

“Hexenhammer” is molten, violent, and punishing, and it’s one of the strongest pieces in Witchsorrow’s history. The band still is a little underappreciated, at least it seems to me, which is a shame since they always deliver the goods. This band realizes our failures to stop criminalizing that which we don’t understand, and unless Armageddon finally answers the band’s whims, they’re sure to be back to rub our faces in our failures once again.

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