Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Witchery - Don't Fear the Reaper
Century Media Records, 2006
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal

1. Disturbing the Beast
2. Stigmatized
3. Draw Blood
4. The Ritual
5. Ashes
6. Plague Rider
7. Damned in Hell
8. Crossfixation
9. The Wait of the Pyramids
10. Immortal Death
11. Styx
12. War Piece
13. Cannonfodder
14. Legion of Hades (Satanic Slaughter Cover)

When I first saw that Witchery had released a new album I got pretty excited.  It’s been a long five years or so, and I was starting to wonder if they were even still around.  I honestly had no idea this album was coming out at all, so imagine my surprise when it showed up in stock at The End Records.  I immediately purchased it because I needed to hear where Witchery went off to.  They were a super group of sorts, but playing a vicious kind of Thrash/Death/Black, depending on what riff you caught them at.  So, I finally got the album and I’ve had somewhat mixed feelings about it ever since I first spun the album.

It is no doubt that we are hearing a different Witchery today, they’ve definitely taken a much more laid back approach and aren’t nearly as vicious as past efforts.  In fact blazing songs are few and far between on here; instead they are favoring a more brooding, slow, and methodical songwriting approach.  I suppose The Haunted taking off to success is one of the things that held Jensen back from playing on this album, and to be honest, when compared to the last Haunted’s latest release, Witchery put them to shame in every way.  Anyway, Witchery left us last with “Symphonies for the Devil,” which was a more thought out approach to their previous works, but with “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” we get what seems to be a different band altogether in many ways.  They lost one of the original riff masters and got a new guitarist who is a superior solo guitarist.  He gives a somewhat more progressive feel to songs at times.  In fact we don’t get to serious thrashing intensity until “Plague Rider,” which is definitely one of my favorite songs on this album.  It has all those superb interesting melodic chord sequences on the guitar from the previous Witchery releases that has you doing the double-u in no time!

Another drastic change that was very apparent to me was Toxin’s vocal work.  It’s not the same as it used to be.  He never uses that high pitched wail that we heard on previous releases.  I think his vocals sound great on here, they’re more varied and everything, but honestly, I wanted to hear some of the old tones play through.  I like having some old with the new material!  “Plague Rider” would have been the perfect place for him to unleash that vocal style again, yet it never shows up.  This was probably the main thing I was disappointed in, and maybe it’s beyond his control.  Maybe something happened to his voice and he can no longer hit the high range, in which case we’ll just have to deal with it.

Overall I think this is an okay album.  Once I overcame the initial idea that this was going to be played quite differently from other Witchery releases I started getting into it more.  The progressive guitar work gets a little overdone at times where they seem to show off the new guitarist’s technical skill a little more than Witchery songs would normally allow for, from a songwriting stand point.  Anyway, it’s not overbearing so it’s tolerable in the overall.  The album closes up with a Satanic Slaughter cover, big surprise there, seeing as how half the band has been in or is in Satanic Slaughter currently.  And that song closes the album with a quite an intense blur making me hold out hope that maybe Witchery just need some time to get back into the swing of things.  I hope they’re back, because they’re one of the few bands that left for quite some time and came back with something pretty decent.  Again, we’ll see what they have for us next, if they decide to put out another album, with members in so many other bands, I can’t know if it will come true or not.

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