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Witchsorrow - "Witchsorrow" (CD)

Witchsorrow - "Witchsorrow" CD cover image

"Witchsorrow" track listing:

1. The Agony (9:25)
2. The Trial Of Elizabeth Clarke (9:23)
3. Gomorrah (6:03)
4. Thou Art Cursed (11:59)
5. Impaler, Tepes (9:01)

Reviewed by on November 26, 2010

"Witchsorrow is not a group of trendsetters or visionaries looking to become figureheads of some future movement that will define music for decades to come. They play doom and they do a damn good job of it."

Like other musical genres, doom metal has been tweaked and poked to the point that defining a band as straight-laced doom has become like solving a Rubik’s cube. With death and stoner jelling together with doom, it has created a sub-culture that respects the past, but has its sights solely on the future. The pure, untouched sound of doom has been lost in transition by many, but UK’s Witchsorrow is a different breed. This trio is unconcerned about fitting into modern times, eager to bring a history lesson to the clueless that have forgotten about where doom really came from. Their self-titled debut sticks to the foundation that doom was built on in the 70’s and 80’s without copycatting any particular acts.

The five tracks take up over 45 minutes of space, with slow and lumbering tempos the main draw. Don’t expect any fast-paced grooves, with the exception of the catchy “Gomorrah.” Thrown right in the thick of things, “Gomorrah” separates the epic material with a jolt of energy that quickly dissipates just as it comes into fruition. The band plays with conviction, working the most out of the distorted riffs, rumbling bass and restrained drumming.

If the band’s name didn’t hint at it enough, the lyrics are teeming with stories of witchcraft and historical witch burnings that occurred all throughout England in the 1600’s. One case in particular, Elizabeth Clarke, is given its own song that details in the band’s own words the trial of the accused witch. The thick production gives the song’s message extra weight, sounding like something that could have been thought up by the minds of Black Sabbath and Reverend Bizarre.

The band’s tortoise-like approach to music is at its high point with the final two tracks. “Thou Art Cursed” takes over four minutes to develop into a full-fledged song, stretching the patience of even the most ardent of listeners. The wait is well worth it, as the band hits a plateau of intensity that is impossible to tear away from. “Impaler, Tepes” experiments with clean melodies in an ingenious fashion, maintaining a constant stream of electric feedback that gives off an uneasiness that can’t be brushed off. The track fades out as the band continues to pound away into the burrows of darkness.

Witchsorrow is not a group of trendsetters or visionaries looking to become figureheads of some future movement that will define music for decades to come. They play doom and they do a damn good job of it. Their debut is wicked and full of one killer cut after another. This is one of those records that will go under-appreciated for years until some random big-shot in the metal community goes, “Hey, this isn’t too bad,” and then everybody will jump on it. Doom metal has been reworked into a shell of its former self, but Witchsorrow is undeterred in delivering an album that is in the true spirit of what made doom so distinct back in the day.

Highs: Classic doom sound, brimming with intensity, solid musicianship that doesn't go over-the-top

Lows: Very slow tempos may test the patience of some, another mid-paced track like "Gomorrah" could had been used.

Bottom line: A straight-laced doom metal album that is a refreshing change of pace from the norm.

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)