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Breaking the Lore - 85%

Papyrus11, June 20th, 2012

Witchsorrow have given us a seriously solid piece of doom with ‘God Curse Us’: classic sounding but with enough uniqueness of style and some added aggression to make it stand out, this is my ideal modern doom album. ‘God Curse Us’ is heavy as hell, to put it simply. Maybe that’s a simple point to make but first things first; you want a doom band to be dredging-the-depths, crushing-your-head-in-with-a-hammer, planets-imploding heavy, and Witchsorrow deliver like the Grim Reaper himself. Never mind God cursing us, Witchsorrow are cursing God with this kind of heaviness. If bleakness is beauty then this album should be in a museum.

Of course, how much you like this album depends on how you feel about familiarity in this kind of music. There are multiple reference points to other bands in the tracks. For example the title song has the Sabbath-like feel of ‘Electric Funeral’ in its main riff. This is a doom staple and Witchsorrow use it because it sounds brilliant, not to break new ground, I think. Personally I don’t have any problem with a band in this genre not sounding completely original: doom needs the atmosphere, misery, plodding tempos and the basic sense of impending, crawling bleakness, and any massive movements away from the original backbone of the genre can reduce these elements, and this is a bad thing for doom-craving souls. There is a hierarchy of influences in the band’s overall sound which enhances the music and places them on their own pedestal in the doom pantheon: put simply, if you like Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Cathedral, Electric Wizard, Reverend Bizarre, The Gates of Slumber or countless others then you WILL love Witchsorrow. They wallow, and revel, in gloom and the endless doom that they (and we) love and it sounds amazing. Having such a firm grasp on and appreciation for the staples of the doom sound as they clearly do means Witchsorrow have created something like a how-to-do-doom-well manual; a perfect example of the genre.

I had to mention the band’s relationship to music that has gone before because it’s unavoidable frankly, but let’s not get too bogged down with the idea. Witchsorrow are their own band; I feel pretty certain that I could hear a previously unheard song of theirs now and know it was them straight away. This is down to many factors, not least of which is the vocals. The excellently named Necroskull has a great, sneering voice that pumps out ominous doom sermons, with occasional forays in to a more extreme style. He also has a great sense of rhythm, making his vocals interlock perfectly with the riffs. Guitar tones are also extremely important for doom bands and Witchsorrow excel here. A really crunchy, but at the same time clear, guitar tone mixes with a thick, suffocating bass one, making a brilliant, no-frills doom sound come alive. Completing the power trio is the drummer who pounds ominously at funeral tempos, before blasting out mercilessly as the band enter one of their more fast-paced sections. The mix of tempos really give Witchsorrow an extra dimension to their sound, something which they take full advantage of.

Music can be analysed all night, breaking down and studying every aspect of it until it isn’t even fun anymore. But the simple things remain, and they are probably the reasons most people listen to music in the first place. The main elements of doom are atmosphere, emotion and heaviness and Witchsorrow deliver all of these to extremely capable and potent degrees. They studied the lore, enhanced it, covered it in the thickest misery going and made it their own. Listening to ‘God Curse Us’ is like taking a journey into the darkest essence of doom, and what more could you want really? Every aspect of it rules, from the playing to the production and the overall vibe and if you like doom metal at all you need to hear it.

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