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One thing that never fails to grab my attention for albums is Lovecraft-inspired artwork. So of course the cover of the sophomore album from the U.K.'s Arkham Witch jumped out at me right away. Of course the name Arkham Witch also contains a Lovecraft reference, as do several of the song titles. So it was with great anticipation that I looked into this album.
Arkham Witch is a very traditional-sounding metal band combining 1980's style metal with doom metal. Oftentimes, the band sounds like a cross between faster-paced Reverend Bizarre and Iron Butterfly. Think about the Reverend Bizarre covering "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and that's probably an accurate representation of Arkham Witch's style.
This is a very entertaining and varied album with a lot of highlights. The album features some slower-paced and epic, plodding doom metal tracks (e.g. "David Lund"), some mid-paced, crunching stoner doom tracks (e.g. "Infernal Machine"), and some angrier, fast-paced tracks that border on thrash metal (e.g. "On a Horse Called Vengeance"). The variation in the individual tracks make this a highly interesting album. It is never boring and captures and holds attention. The album sounds like it would have made a terrific soundtrack to 1970's horror b-movies. And yes that is a compliment.
The instrumentation is well-done, with a heavy, crunchy sound to the riffs. The production is clear and allows all of the individual instruments to come out cleanly. Arkham Witch does a terrific job of catching the sound and feel of heavy metal in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
The only complaint that I have is with some of the spoken vocal lines. Particularly with the mostly forgettable "We're from Keighley". The opening line in that track is regrettable and mars an otherwise highly impressive album. But then I just rewind it to the rocking "On a Horse Called Vengeance" and all is forgiven.