Witchery - Don't Fear The Reaper

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number:
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:12:00

Back in 1998, Witchery's debut Restless & Dead was making quite the waves in the metal underground with a modern thrash base infused with healthy doses of death and black metal. Hell, forget waves, tsunamis were more like it, as the band was on top of the Swedish thrash metal scene after Dead, Hot, and Ready had come out a mere year later. Yet for one reason or another, yours truly never quite listened to the band despite growing interest, and so it went for what seemed nothing but a short while. Of course, it's 2006 now, and the short while turns out to be eight long years. Talk about procrastination. But hey, late is better than never, and with the Swedes' latest Don't Fear the Reaper having blasted through my speakers a good number of times by now, I can now issue a verdict: not perfect, but pretty good.

Unfortunately, Witchery's latest outing seems to be stylistically at odds with its predecessors, so this really only goes for this collection of thirteen songs, and I still have to get myself a copy of Restless & Dead. As for the thrash metal topped by the venomous blackened death vocals of Toxine: although it's quite enjoyable at times, it's still a mixed bag of sorts. The majority of the songs groove like demons possessed; "Disturbing The Beast" opens the procession with the military strength of an infernally large Panzer division; and up to somewhere during the grinding "Crossfixation," there are few significant complaints. After that, however, the band almost completely derails: "The Wait Of The Pyramids" is pretty much a generic version of Metallica's "Call Of Ktulu," "Immortal Death" is simply boorish, "Styx" rapidly loses steam after a great beginning, and "Cannon Fodder" is a bit too close to Slayer, up to the point that Martin Axenrot's brief drum solo in the middle sounds as if it could have replaced Dave Lombardo's on "Angel Of Death."

Still, the first half of the album is so damn good, that it's hard to really care that much. Even the effect of the ludicrously pretentious black metal keyboards of "Ashes" is somewhat washed away by the meaty guitar riff with which they alternate, and when one gets to the killer "The Ritual" or the demolishing pair of "Plague Rider" and "Damned in Hell," it's headbanging bliss. Forget about evil, darkness, and the usual array of keywords that some in the underground metal camp immediately equate with good. This stuff is good because it'll kick your teeth in, break your bones, drag you around, and crush your spine ? and you'll still be asking for seconds. About half of the tracks are so damn catchy that it's pretty much impossible not to at least swing one's head around a couple of times, and the barrage of riffs therein is delivered with an overwhelming sense of groove that simply cannot be ignored.

Ah, you need it in simpler fashion? Fine. Don't Fear The Reaper might not be a completely mindnumbing masterwork of modern thrash metal (not in small part because of the fact that the second half of it leaves one somewhat unfulfilled), and the members of Witchery aren't really doing anything that groundbreaking, they're just writing some good songs, but it's still pretty killer. For one, it made me decide that I'm really going to get Restless & Dead now. For two, it ended an eight-year wait. And while on the subject, the one relevant question for you can only be the following: was late better than never? Hell yeah it was.

Disturbing The Beast (2:41) / Stigmatized (4:12) / Draw Blood (3:18) / The Ritual (4:03) / Ashes (4:17) / Plague Rider (3:56) / Damned In Hell (3:55) / Crossfixation (4:09) / The Wait Of The Pyramids (3:55) / Immortal Death (1:31) / Styx (4:54) / War Piece (2:22) / Cannon Fodder (2:39) / Legion Of Hades (1:20)

Toxine - vocals
Patrik Jensen - guitars
Richard Corpse - guitars
Sharlee D'Angelo - bass
Martin Axenrot - drums

Restless & Dead (1998)
Witchburner (ep) (1999)
Dead, Hot And Ready (1999)
Symphony For The Devil (2001)
Don't Fear The Reaper (2006)

Genre: Other

Origin SE

Added: April 9th 2006
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website: www.witchery.org
Hits: 847
Language: english


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