It becomes clear right off the bat that the third full-length album by Nashville’s All Them Witches is much more mellow than the spaced out Zeppelin rock of their previous efforts. The ever-present Americana atmosphere opts for a more singer-songwriter angle this time around as tracks like the opening “Call Me Star” and “Open Passageways” feature a slew of acoustic guitar, marching drum beats that invoke bleak farmlands, and dabs of harmonica for good measure. The results generally play out like something Mark Lanegan would put together.
Of course, the band hasn’t forsaken their association with the stoner rock scene. The fuzzy guitar and Bonham-inspired drum pounding on tracks like “El Centro” and “Blood And Sand/Milk And Endless Waters” seem to be cut from the same cloth as the tangents that made up A Sweet Release earlier this year. Lead single “Dirt Preachers” similarly stands out as it builds on a couple bass driven riffs before drawing things back out towards the end.
With these two sides to consider, it is a relief that they never feel at odds with one another. On the contrary, they have a symbiotic operation and flow in and out of each other smoothly. The heavier moments allow things to build dynamically and the more contemplative atmosphere gives the music a conceptual outlook that would be otherwise absent in a sea of wankery.
Unfortunately, the looseness can also mean that the actual songwriting sometimes isn’t as developed as it could be. This isn’t the sort of music that calls for catchy hooks but the free flowing nature isn’t as conductive to truly monumental riffs as something more straightforward. The gripping musicianship makes this observation easy to overlook but the album would highly benefit from a greater statement of purpose.
Overall, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker may be the most interesting effort that All Them Witches has offered thus far. The Americana elements set them apart from most of their stoner rock peers and the fusing of heavy and mellow sounds is tailor-made for zoning out. One can hope for greater attention to songwriting on future efforts but this could very well be a grower.
“Call Me Star”
“This Is Where It Falls Apart”
“Blood And Sand/Milk And Endless Waters”