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WITCHERY, at one time or another, seemed like a pretty big thing back when the 90s were the thing of the day, one of the better “super groups” that initiated that unholy conglomerate of a wicked-ass black metal atmosphere and old school, riff-based thrashin’ that was quite uncommon to toy with. Nowadays any headstrong fool with a guitar and two I.V.s of SLAYER and DISSECTION can unearth such a fiery maelstrom with that frostbitten twinge, but for even the most horns-raisin’ of metal guys it could be rather tricky to remember any other blackened thrash groups in the 90s outside of SACRAMENTUM, USURPER, and all those JOE THIRD-TIER clones. However, I’d not been able to take a big gulp of WITCHERY’s wares (always hard to do so when your local good music shop is many, many miles away), though I’d been intrigued enough to be able to see how they’d manage to survive into the 21st century. Plus, ol’ boy Legion is now fronting these goons, which helped the manner all the more (I’d wondered what his post-MARDUK day job would end up being…imagine my surprise!)
And with that said, “Witchkrieg” is now upon us…so how good is it? How good could it possibly be?
Within just the first minute of the opening track, this listener knows that this new album will be a complete and utter riff-fest, more than good enough to quench the hunger for heaviness and all things metallic. Easily one of the best Century Media releases in recent times, WITCHERY beat any partaking by-passers out of their baby-doll TRIVIUM/KILLSWITCH ENGAGE/what-have-you-core shirts and thrust them head-first into what metal should REALLY sound like. Energetic, melodic, brutal, and utterly evil, “Witchkrieg” bludgeons with an utmost supremacy that proudly displays that “Made in Sweden” seal, where monstrous twin/lead guitars, skull-bashing riffs, punishing drums and some of Legion’s best vocal work to date (which is thankfully as energetic as the music itself, as his latter-era MARDUK vocality seemed weak and almost tired-sounding) come forth like an explosion of (im)pure sound, taking that old black/thrash sound with sprinkles of a one-time modern death metal approach that is simultaneously familiar and fresh-sounding. This should be the release to put this group at the forefront of the Swedish metal world, well past the shred-based egotism of ARCH ENEMY, the hardcore tendencies of THE HAUNTED, and the emo-esque meanderings of SONIC SYNDICATE. There’s a lot to enjoy within this 34 minute fist to the nuts which should prove important to both those old-timey fans and those just getting into the WITCHERY way of life, as the likes of “Wearer of Wolf's Skin”, “From Dead to Worse”, and “One Foot in the Grave” can attest. In a time where REAL metal is becoming endangered by an over-saturation of both talentless third/fourth-tier newer bands and pathetic examples of “mainstream” heavy music, it’s about time a group from decades passed gave us their all in order to remind us dinosaurs that all is not lost. And for that, I salute thee.
In the end WITCHERY unleash another fine example of metal mastery that sticks to your now-bloodied ribs like the Reaper’s blade itself. If you want to have riffs shoved down your throat, a steel-toed New Rock boot kick your ass, and the raised horns poking your very eyes out, I’ve yet to find you a better album to have it done so.