Friday, October 2, 2015

Review of Witchdoctor's Moon Watcher

2001: A Space Odyssey is an undeniable staple of pop culture but it is rather rare to ever see it be referenced in the world of heavy metal. The prologue's tale of the apes and the monolith is particularly iconic and has provided much food for thought over the years. While the scene is the subject of only one song on their debut studio effort, it does a pretty good job of describing the band's overall sound and intentions.

While Witchdoctor is best classified as epic doom metal but there is more to the Indianapolis group than mere Candlemass worship. The performances are melodic and sophisticated but there is a savage undercurrent that shows influence from such groups as High On Fire. The guitar riffs play like rallying battle cries when they aren't bludgeoning you to death, the loose structures utilize different tempos, the lyrics speak of fantasy and uncivilized warfare, and the contrasts between operatic wails and vicious shouts sound like a caveman that has just learned to sing but is still trying to control it. The album basically sounds like what would happen if the monolith made the apes play doom metal after killing each other...
And with Moon Watcher being thirty-five minutes and six songs long, one of which being a two and a half minute instrumental, there isn't any room for filler. The first three songs may be the best on display as "The Gathering" shows off some hair raising guitar leads after a building introduction and the title track has a series of intricate yet catchy riffs. The second half can't be denied either as "DMLKT" offers a particularly epic refrain. It would've been great to see another track or two but nothing here feels underdeveloped.

Overall, Witchdoctor's debut just may be one of the most promising to be seen in the doom community. The more subtle incorporation of their influences make them tricky to stylistically pinpoint than most and the balance of class and aggression should endear them to just about any doom fan out there. One can only wonder which path they will choose on future efforts.

"The Gathering"
"Moon Watcher"

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