Emerging from a dank cave, reeking of rot and weed, a hideous crone hobbles toward you, a fat cauldron in her arms, bubbling over with a foul-smelling concoction. As she approaches, the smell of death on her breath wafts toward you, encircling you; your vision goes fuzzy.”Driiiiiiiink,” she rasps, “drink deeeeeeeeeply,” her gnarled and greasy hands shoving a ladle toward you. You try to focus, are incapable, gazing stupidly at the hag. In the darkness, you see glazed spittle frozen in the corners of her sickly smirking mouth; a malicious glint in her eyes twinkles. The scent of her brew, warm and putrid, invades your nostrils. Holding back the urge to vomit, yet compelled by an unknown force, you lean forward, bringing your mouth to the hot ladle, sucking down its thick contents, choking, gagging in the dark.Life drains from you, limbs and vision failing, and as you spiral down, moonlight fading, you know you’ve been trapped by this bitch, the Acid Witch…
Stoned is Acid Witch‘s slightly toned down follow-up to 2008’s Witchtanic Hellucinations, sticking to the same subject matter as its predecessor: horror and doom. And oh how sticky it is — the tracks of Stoned wade through swamps of murky doom, crunch brittle skulls, and eerily wind through candlelit caves. Stoned churns and bubbles in ways that I can’t help but love: it’s chock-full of horror nuances, killer riffs from hell, and it’s much less cheesy than a crock pot full of Velveeta. An ominous guitar tone and hellaciously low, raw vocals round out just about everything that is good (and simultaneously wicked) here.
Opener “Satanic Faith,” ripe with creepy organ music and samples, gets shit off on the right foot with a Suspiria vibe, melting and then bursting into “Witchfynder Finder,” a groovy, doomy tune about giving Matthew Hopkins his due. Then listeners are treated to “Trick or Treat,” one of the catchiest tracks on Stoned, oozing over with psychedelia and wide-open riffs, boasting lyrics like “Most kids with sense, their muscles tense, and dash past my house Halloween night — But those with greed in there hearts, whose breath reek of sweet tarts — Drag heaving bags, in devilish rags, to the door of the spider that waits.” It’s like watching Halloween at eight years old by yourself (in the dark) all over again!
“Thundering Hooves” clomps through horror samples and supremely stoned-out guitar work, while “Live Forever” employs more of a downtrodden theme with some occasional organ madness thrown in. “Whispers in the Dark,” a horror nerd’s playground, is brimming with elements that sound like they were cut from ’70s and ’80s creeper/slasher film soundtracks. “If Hell Exists” is catchy like “Trick or Treat,” yet more melancholic and less foreboding. “Stoned to the Grave”…well, here’s one for the outcasts and heathens among us; it’s about being shunned and turning to witchcraft, and it’s got a nasty, defiant old school vibe. Next is “Metal Movie Marijuana Massacre Meltdown,” a significantly less serious tune about getting stoned and watching Trick or Treat and Black Roses; it’s heavy and it’s definitely Acid Witch. Closing out the album is the aptly titled “Sabbath of the Undead,” a slow-paced and sinister tune that rolls into a Sabbath-y groove.
Acid Witch has nestled into a nice little niche in the doom/death/horror genre…or something like that. There’s a little bit of schlock to go around, but as a whole, the effort put forth makes Stoned a cohesive, atmospheric and effective heavy metal horror record. While I am by no means an aficionado of doom or the like, Acid Witch (with both Witchtanic Hellucinations and Stoned) has expanded my mind a bit on the genre (without the help of drugs), and inspired me to seek more out, without regard to topical leanings (though to be fair, any horror-related metal gets a blip on my boner radar). Do yourself a favor and check out Acid Witch; it can’t hurt. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to watch an Argento flick with the lights out.[Visit the band's website]