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A solid debut effort - 75%

Goldensundown, March 26th, 2014

They’re English, they’re on Rise Above (Lee Dorian of Cathedral’s label) and their band is called Witchsorrow - this should be a clear indication of the type of metal this could be, either traditional heavy/psychedelic or slow brooding Cathedral worship. Witchsorrow sit firmly in the latter category, also citing Electric Wizard as massive influences as well even being invited by Jus Oborn to play at Roadburn in 2012. For a band that is as obscure (and new, starting in 2005, with their s/t debut in 2010) and not well-known amongst metalheads, these are some pretty top quality endorsements to have under your belt.

Musically, these guys can be compared to a combination of Cathedral and a much less fuzzed (but still bloody fuzzed) Electric Wizard, playing a style of brooding, evil doom that extends over long songs, the five tracks on this album ranging from 6 minutes to just under 12 minutes. Expect plodding, fuzzed out chords, bassy guitar tones, and deep rumbling bass guitar and drums as well as gruff, brooding vocals from Necroskull to hammer at your ears over this 45 minute debut. As well as the music style, the brooding mentality is applied to the lyrics, centering heavily on witches and witch trials, including some pretty dark-natured lyrics like “They will judge, they can’t understand the reasons why they forced your hand” and “Tricked by Witchfinders, the great deceivers! Accused of witchcraft…”

Between the fuzzed out guitars, the lyrical content, and the brooding vocals, the atmosphere created by this trio is entrancing and dark, and it’s a real sort of dark atmosphere; there’s no cheese to be found in this album. Despite this though, the album seems to suffer from some production issues in small sections of the album, taking away from the dark and deep, brooding tone of the album as well as a few lackluster sections of songs which desperately lack the evil brooding sounds that other sections employ. The longest song, Thou Art Cursed, relies heavily on the tri-tone, which over the almost 12 minutes run time becomes a little overplayed, though is effective in adding to the overall atmosphere despite this. The underwhelming sections of the songs, while few and far between, can at times make the album feel like a laborious listen, although this tends to be rare.

Despite the above complaints, this album is an interesting and entrancing listen and does the dark, brooding, and witchy atmosphere with as little fondue as possible, and besides, if Jus Oborn willingly invited this band to play in the section of Roadburn he was curator for (2 albums in for Witchsorrow at the time), this album cannot have been a terrible debut. This debut is by no means a bad one, but just happens to suffer a few blemishes which seem to have been polished out on their sophomore release.

An album that, despite the minor flaws, is still recommended for people who desire a brooding, dark, and slow doom album that truly lives up the genre name.

Originally written for:

An Impressive Traditional Doom Debut - 75%

Shadoeking, January 10th, 2011

Witchsorrow is a traditional doom metal band from the U.K. This is the band's first album released on the label Rise Above, a label that has been making pretty big waves in the doom metal genre with groups like Electric Wizard, Ghost, Blood Ceremony, Witchcraft, and others.

Witchsorrow is a power trio utilizing crushing, yet agonizingly slow riffs. The band sounds a lot like the latter five tracks off of Reverend Bizarre's second album. All doom and gloom. The band does use guitar solos from Necroskull to add a little color to the otherwise bleak and destroyed sound. The riffs are bottom-heavy and very distorted. "Thou Art Cursed" stands out as the most somber of the songs, particularly in the early minutes.

The band does occasionally pick up speed, proving that they are not a monotonous band. However, they rarely do anything extra when they do pick up speed. The most obvious example is toward the end of "The Trial of Elizabeth Clarke" where they pick up a lot of speed, but revert back to the slow and gloomy riffs of the beginning of the track. "Gomorrah" is the fastest track on the album, though it could never be mistaken for speed metal. It does however, also slow way down several times, but otherwise is propelled by a Sabbathian galloping riff.

Vocalist Necroskull delivers the vocals in a dry, deathly groan. Occasionally the urgency in the vocal delivery increases and Necroskull is found yelling, but for the most part, his vocal style does not change.

There are only five songs on the album, and yet the album is nearly 50 minutes long, so obviously all of the songs are epic in length. This is not necessarily surprising given the style of metal though, so it is certainly not a complaint. Witchsorrow has found a way to make slow and plodding doom metal interesting enough to not lose the listener's attention, despite the length of the tracks.

Overall, I came away very impressed. There have been a lot more doom metal bands appearing of late. I do not think we have reached the saturation stage in this where there are too many yet, but it may not be long. As it stands right now, I do enjoy listening to new traditional doom metal bands, and that certainly includes Witchsorrow.

Originally written for

Bland if sincere blend of appropos influences - 60%

autothrall, December 22nd, 2010

The band is called Witchsorrow, the record label Rise Above Records, so it's only too safe to hazard a guess that this will be either traditional or psychedelic doom before you've even heard a note of it through your speakers. Well, the UK trio certainly lean towards the former category, if we're thinking in terms of Cathedral or the more sluggish material from Sabbath or St. Vitus, and one actually might conjecture whether or not Lee Dorrian signed the band because he saw a little of his earlier self in their sound. Certainly, there are apt comparisons here to the first few Cathedral records, before they adopted their more groovy, accessible format with Ethereal Mirror (which happens to be one of my favorite albums by that outfit).

So, if your expectations are for slow, tortured sequences of chords that swell and groove to the disaffection of the vocals, then Witchsorrow are only too happy to oblige you in a slurry of five tracks and 45 minutes. 'Necroskull' has a similar lamentable tone to his howling that falls in somewhere between Dorrian and early My Dying Bride, and the music is implicitly simple, with nary a surprise hiding out anywhere. The bass and drums follow the thick axe broth all too closely, and as a result there is a somewhat one track feeling through "The Agony" or "The Trial of Elizabeth Clarke", though "Gomorrah" thankfully picks up the pace in the verse to "Symptom of the Universe" levels before its own churning, nihilistic breakdown, and "Impaler, Tepes" had me slowly craning my neck when it too started to rock.

Unfortunately, these don't represent most of the album, which is rather lacking in memorable riffs despite the straightforward intentions of the band. Nothing here is quite so primal or aggressive as the heights of Electric Wizard, or the more recent Ramesses, and there's not much of a variation outside of slight, minimal psychedelic ambient phrases like the tranquil calm at the core of "Impaler, Tepes" or the drudging melodic hypnosis deep within "Thou Art Cursed". I'm a stickler for certain qualities in doom, in short the ability to create the feelings of inevitable oppression without ennui that bands like Sabbath, St. Vitus, Candlemass and Trouble first manifest, and I'm not sure I'd give this debut a passing grade. By no means are Witchsorrow terrible, and to their credit, they're actually quite sincere, but I'd like to hear more than just the bare minimum of effort laid out before me, spelling my damnation.