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Witchery - "Don't Fear The Reaper" (CD)

Witchery - "Don't Fear The Reaper" CD cover image

"Don't Fear The Reaper" track listing:

1. Disturbing the Beast [Instrumental]
2. Stigmatized
3. Draw Blood
4. Ritual
5. Ashes
6. Plague Rider
7. Damned in Hell
8. Crossfixation
9. Wait of the Pyramids [Instrumental]
10. Immortal Death
11. Styx
12. War Piece [Instrumental]
13. Cannon Fodder
14. Legion of Hades [*]

Reviewed by on June 17, 2006

"Witchery’s most notable member, guitarist Patrik Jensen, leaves his marks all over this album, with some of the tightest axemanship in the entire metal universe"

After about five years, Witchery have finally released some new material. Comprised of members of more hyped bands such as Arch Enemy, Opeth, and The Haunted, Witchery deliver an offering that is, while sometimes simple-sounding, metal to the core. The easiest summation of Witchery’s latest release, “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” is to simply label the album as pure heavy metal, without risk (right down to the clichéd album title) but without compromise.

Witchery’s most notable member, guitarist Patrik Jensen, leaves his marks all over this album, with some of the tightest axemanship in the entire metal universe. While Jensen might gain most of his fame from the more popular Swedish metal band, The Haunted, Witchery is not negated to secondary status, at least musically. The difference in Jensen’s two bands can be heard not only in the Witchery’s more snarling vocals (never clean), but also in their overall more traditional tone and less-thrashing pace.

Most of the tracks on “Don’t Fear the Reaper” clock in around the four-minute mark, never delving into the more extravagant arrangements that often lace the world of metal. Witchery are content with laying down quick, catchy yet heavy riffs combined with snarling vocals, and getting out. The sound is very comparable to Dark Tranquility’s sound sans the more electronic atmosphere. In fact, one of the standout tracks, “The Ritual,” would fit nicely into a Dark Tranquility album. The first half of "Don't Fear the Reaper" features a slower pace, with the anthem-sounding “Ashes,” the brief-yet-brutal “Draw Blood,” and the aforementioned “The Ritual” serving as the most remarkable songs. The most thrashing tracks, such as “Immortal Death,” “Cannon Fodder,” and “Crossfixation” are reserved for the latter portion of the album. A few well-placed instumentals break up the action, with the intoductory "Disturbing the Beast" setting the mood for the album.

Witchery will likely find a new assemblage of fans derived from the fan base of the uber-groups Arch Enemy, Opeth, and the Haunted. In that respect, Witchery should prove very accessible—they never hit the listener with anything too intimidating, and their simple yet driving arrangements very much echo those of many more popular Swedish acts. With the busy schedules of the band members, it’s hard to tell whether or not Witchery will be a mainstay metal act; “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” though, will give longtime Witchery fans and newcomers alike some solid heavy metal to digest for the time being.

Highs: Jensen's guitars

Lows: Few chances are taken here

Bottom line: Witchery won't blow you away, but they won't disappoint, either

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)