Witches
The Fates

I’m so very happy, but I’M ALSO FUCKING PISSED.

I’m happy as I always am any time I discover a new band I’ve never heard, especially one that falls in that sweet thrashy death wheelhouse that makes me all giddy and tingly inside. And I’m doubly happy to discover one that includes a female lead vocalist and guitarist because metal, as a whole, is just better off having a more diverse and widespread set of voices (if you feel differently feel free to kindly and quickly fuck off). In fact, these guys go so far to coin themselves as “the first band in France with female guttural voice!” – a piece of trivia I’m SURE will come in handy at my next pub trivia (whenever the hell we get to do that again).

But… wait, the FIRST French band? Well shit, they can’t have been around very long HOLY SHIT THEY’VE BEEN AT IT SINCE 1986?! WHAT?? Where the fuck have they been LITERALLY my whole life?!

And thus, friends, is why I’m pissed. 34 years, absolutely goddamn wasted having not ever had Witches in my life. SAD… But then again, maybe I should be somewhat grateful. Because of this (TRAGIC) oversight, I can enjoy this album without any burden of context or inevitable expectations that normally come with a band with over three decades of experience. Indeed, I can focus on and simply enjoy this record for what it is – a fucking KILLER slab of lively, old school death metal that brings a lunatic’s smile to my face.

Now don’t get me wrong, there aren’t really any books being rewritten here: a dash of speedy death metal ala Sinister or Hail of Bullets, and a good dose of Kreator or Sodom-inspired Eurothrash. But while lacking in innovation, the band more than makes up with vigorous energy. It’s a classic sound that feels fresh and alive just by virtue of the band’s evident enthusiasm. Full-speed-ahead thrashers “We Are,” “Damned Skin is Mine” and “Off The Flesh” are brimming to the gills with the kind of frantic riffs and full-tilt, acrobatic drumming that frankly makes me exhausted just thinking about trying to play (thank the gods I can just sit back and enjoy, but drummer Jonathan Jure deserves a big shout out for his performance on this record).

But Witches aren’t content to just floor it with a one-speed-fits-all attack… Okay, well, it’s mostly a full-throttle affair, but “Black from Sorrow,” the album’s first real pace-changer, turns the band from high-flying, speed-broom-riding wretch, to a gloomier, filthier bog witch that drags you into the swamp depths with a more methodical Scream Bloody Gore Death-like approach. After a more ferocious start on “Off the Flesh,” the band settles into a nice, rumbling groove that pummels you to the bowels and makes for one of the album’s best moments.

The best part about this album, however, is that it just gets better and better as it moves along. Nothing even remotely approaches dud status. If opener “We are” is the fun, albeit somewhat bare-bones introduction, then closer “Death in the Middle Ages” is the epic, packed final chapter that leaves you out-of-breath and wanting for more. In fact, I’m not sure you can really round out an album any better than they’ve done here, the final three tracks, “Let Stones Fall,” “Last Wishes” and the aforementioned “Death in the Middle Ages” being the best 3-song run I’ve heard on any album so far in 2020 (the only complaint being that the final song ends so abruptly that I’m just not prepared for it all to be over).

 

I can’t get back the 34 years spent without knowing this band. I can’t wrap my head around the notion that a band of this quality managed to slip through the cracks for me. All I can do is be grateful that this band finally did ping on my radar, and that it happened with the release as fun and fervent as this. Not only did I get to discover a new (to me) band with an album I know I’m going to enjoy for some time to come, but I got to learn a unique bit of metal history as well. Whether you’re like me and this band is completely new to you, or you’ve been a loyal follower for three decades, I can’t recommend you get your hands on this album enough. I’m spellbound.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
July 9th, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick K

    This rips! Killer review…


  2. Commented by: F.Rini

    Great review Steve. Crap I never heard of them until now too. Killer.


  3. Commented by: Erik T

    Get a bit of a Dreaming Dead vibe.


  4. Commented by: F.Rini

    Great review Steve. Never heard of them either. Seems like they were dormant for a number of years until 2015. The ferocious blast beats are killer. They have a little Nervosa influence – or maybe it’s the other way around. We Are is my tip album opening song for 2020. Comes out the starting gate ripping off heads immediately


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