It takes more than most people realize to remain committed and in love with something, someone, anything for 37 years. One man has done just that with his band Stormwitch.
Vocalist, Andy Aldrian formed “The Masters of Black Romantic” in 1981, and although the band has split a couple of times, it has never stuck, and he has resurrected it after a couple years on both occasions. Stormwitch has had more success and recognition than probably 90% of bands that form with some ambition to get out the rehearsal space, but they have never been at a level where the band was anything more than underground cult heroes. Still, having toured in many countries, playing at the coveted Wacken Festival in 2002, and a stint on Nuclear Blast’s roster is nothing to be sniffed at, let alone releasing eleven albums.
Speaking of album number eleven, that’s why we are here. Bound to the Witch is rather good, but that is coming from someone who hasn’t heard a note of Stormwitch’s music before. Perhaps a longtime fan might tell me I am incorrect and that their third record is way better or album seven is the masterpiece, I don’t know but I take this record as a standalone piece of art, and it’s solid. I did find myself wanting to listen again and again until I knew all the songs well. That’s always a great sign of enjoying a record. Right from the gate, if you are into anything NWOBHM sounding, then listen to Bound to the Witch, that’s as far as you need to read, just go listen.
Andy’s vocals are really engaging, and he comes off like a less aggressive Biff Byford, which is definite plus point. Musically, they do also come from the same school as those early to mid-period Saxon records. Having done research on the band before writing this, I did see some mentions of Iron Maiden and fellow countrymen, Helloween, but I’m not getting that. I am however getting the likes of Satan and Tygers of Pan Tang, but leaning more toward a power metal vibe.
The guitar work on Bound to the Witch is stellar and does the all-important, what’s right for the song rather than “look what I can do.” Some of the solo trade offs are tasty (see ‘Ancient Times’), and I wish they did it more across the eleven tracks. The rhythm tracks could be a bit higher in the mix or perhaps it’s the tone that needs to be a bit more attacking, but its more an observation rather than an annoyance.
It’s fortunate that the songs are so strong, because Stormwitch do tend to hang around the same tempo for much of the track list, which becomes more and more noticeable with repeat listens.
Album closer ‘Nightingale’ is stunning. It’s an all acoustic affair, which is such a wonderful way to close the record, and shows the confidence of being a band for almost four decades. In closing, there are no duds here, just solid, melodic and rousing Heavy Metal. Get in with the Witch!