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I Met A Crooked Witch Who Walked A Crooked Mile - 90%

CHAIRTHROWER, July 20th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Independent

Further cause for estivally enthused stoner/doom metal revelry entails Edmonton's wickedly rocking, Pentagram-ish-to-the-max Häxor - itself, a killer band moniker denoting "witches", in good ole Swedish...(Hey, we don't want to attract Argentina's Las Brujas' nefarious cone of power, now!).

Its bad-ass cover art aside, the Albertan trio's independent/unsigned sophomore full-length (which, last week, came at behest of three-track 2018 demo, as well as titular debut proper), The Ritual, begins with close cousin-style riff to Sab's iconic "Paranoid" (albeit much meatier), atop super swarthy battery which throws down with all the might and rancorous evil of Baphomet's unholy sceptre.

For example, front/ax-man Sean Tracy's imposingly gruff and oily, baritone mid-range instantly evokes tell-tale, chthonic, Bobby Liebling-like charm and bonhomie, particularly around the ineluctably grooving chorus, whence he warbles, like true crypt-keeping scion, "Whoa! I know...". The roving-as-Hell return to stoically palm-muted, hard-driven form and wheezing, madcap pentatonic blues solo sold me, as much.

"The Ritual" proper consists of tried and true (and blue), slow-burn and down-tuned typical "doom" of the purest order; while not as enthralling as said crack-shot entrance, still assuages solidified and brooding inclinations of a decidedly morose, yet totally bruising, nature - or is that "natur"?. At any rate, glad tidings, off the (vampire) bat, are hugely imminent -- genre adepts, if they know what's up, should, at the very least, keep reading and/or give these dudes a token whirl.

Encompassing seven kick-ass cuts over thirty-three minutes surely behoves Haxor's lugubriously waltzing overtures; from the aptly captioned, meandering jink-er "Groove Hammer" and succeeding seven minute, spaced-out, bass-heavy, Somali Yacht Club reminiscent fuzzarama "Murder Tree" (which bares indelibly creeping, flavourfully rotten fruit), to sardonically meandering "Black Sails" - ode to stylish early 18th century buccaneering program on AMC? - and brief, flash-in-the-brainpan/evident ode to Black Sabbath in "Sasquatch Bloody Sasquatch", there's a none-too-liminal (or limited) amount of mercurial-ism on display.

All told, including yet further greatly canonized closer, "Nine Skulls of Suffering" (Dante's Inferno, style), and, in accordance with concomitant tempo changes, The Ritual features sufficient variety to warrant several repeat listens, not to mention hiking it up to top of playlist. What's more, the swampy, well-balanced/mixed production favours each member's steady, at times, sped up or genuflecting, contributions, with the gnawed bones - as opposed to bare bones - support of rhythmic entity made up of bassist Liam and drummer John Phillips, appointing stout, unwavering, "relentless" support to Sean.

Suffice it to Moon bay, along with Vinnum Sabbathi's latest, Of Dimensions & Theories, as well as Supercharger Destroyer's brand new Master of the Seven Stars, Haxor's The Ritual - Night Demon bows, deeply and gravely - comprises one of top genre worthies, er, worth checking out at some point during this eternally agoraphobic Summer.