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While probably not as much of a cult success as "Dopethrone", Witchcult Today definitely fits as one of the best doom metal albums I've heard in a while. The title track maintains a driving, gloomy, brooding riff (as is the staple of the genre), over which, Oborn lays clearer vocals than usual, very audible drums, and a very bassy, mellow sound, where the guitars really, really drag. A couple solos are actually audible, unusual for the genre, yet appealing. This basic formula is obeyed for most of the album, which is certainly a good thing. The title track is, however, by no means the standard by which the album should be judged. In fact, as soon as Dunwich, the second track, the album had already eclipsed by initial opinion. With an insanely catchy, yet draggy riff, the song never gets stale - Oborn delivers one of the best vocal performances I've ever heard him give. When the guitar solos hit, they do not seem out of place - they seem like a very natural addition to the song. Dunwich is not only a highlight of the album, but perhaps one of the better songs of their career. But not to be outdone, Satanic Rites of Drugula bursts in, with a riff that plods along gloomily, yet deliberately... "Harmony" is not a word commonly associated with Doom, who knew that it could make an already heavy song that much heavier? Rob Al-Issa delivers thick, meaty bass, much like he's done throughout his tenure with Wizard, while Rutter lays down driving drum lines, and Madam Buckingham taunts us with her ability.
"Bloodlust... drugluast... Count Drugula, arise!"
It's tracks like this that make me wonder why Doom never caught on. Then it occurred to me that to most, Doom is perceived as merely a laborious, slow-motion cacophony... Give them a copy of Witchcult, and you might just change their minds.
Raptus, however, IS cacophony, although is atmospheric nonetheless.
The Chosen Few is your archetypical Wizard track, with awesome, heavy riffing, with atmospheric solos and near-flawless rhythm. Torqumada 71 driving, heavy, plodding riff... Super-heavy... Heavy, without sacrificing groove and style. Perhaps I sense a bit of blues in the bassline?
Black Magic Rituals & Perversions... About five minutes longer than it should have been. Don't knock my taste for long songs, I love 2112, Lizard, etc. and am ecstatic that they aren't a second shorter. But it's almost as if the Obornaut(TM) has run out of ideas, and decides to milk the cacophony cow for all its worth. Thankfully, Saturnine is a definite improvement. Length done RIGHT. Did you hear that, Mr. Oborn? Keep it like this when you run out of ideas. Another solid vocal performance, oddly enough. Despite its length, and the relatively repetitive nature of doom/stoner metal, it has never gotten stale either...
Witchcult Today is a slight change from Wizard of past, but is, of course, by no means radically different... It's as brooding, dark, and atmospheric as any other Doom out there, and is more accessible for novices to the genre. So buy (or otherwise "acquire") a copy, and spread the doom during this fine time of year.