I’ll admit to being easily confused, so this release from France’s The Witch really did my head in initially. When I plucked them from the TINAS ‘To Review’ spreadsheet I thought they were Witch, the US stoner band that bizarrely features guitar god J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. on drums. So I Googled the band name and discovered they also aren’t the psychedelic rock band from Zambia, now defunct. When I did manage to find info on this version of The Witch I found them described as ‘progressive stoner’ – well, they aren’t really that either! There is a song on this EP called ‘The Wizzard is Stoned’ which features bubbling bong samples and there are certain other lyrical nods to all things lysergic and fantastical, but musically this band is a much more aggressive proposition.
It begins in a rather naff and dated manner by sampling the famous biblical quote spoken by Samuel L. Jackson in ‘Pulp Fiction’, but never fear as from there on in this five track EP is fresh and exciting. Opener ‘Skeleton Soul’ sounds like Slipknot playing “Killers”-era Iron Maiden, with vocalist Djul at times sounding uncannily like Paul Di’Anno. ‘Hellride’ mainly ditches the NWOBHM twin guitar chug and is total Slipknot, even down to the quirky percussive fills. It’s all good stuff, although I don’t know if I find it particularly thrilling because I was expecting some more laid back righteous choogling or it really is a great set of uptempo deathcore shredders.
The aforementioned ‘The Wizzard is Stoned’ is actually the best thing here, full of effective switches in pace and mood, plus awesome duelling guitars by Djul and Antonie. The marrying of clean, almost classic metal guitar playing with melodic death metal vocals and battering ram drums is refreshing and works exceptionally well, making The Witch stand out from the crowd, despite having a name that does the opposite.