LABEL: Napalm Records
RELEASE: May 5th, 2023
AUTHOR: Paul Hutchings

BURNING WITCHES albumrand01. Rise Of Darkness
Unleash The Beast
Evil Witch
World On Fire
House Of Blood
The Dark Tower
Heart Of Ice
Arrow Of Time
Doomed To Die
Into The Unknown
The Lost Souls

I’ll admit that I found BURNING WITCHES third album Dance With The Devil dull and when I reviewed The Witch Of The North for another site two years ago, I commented that the band didn’t quite have the quality to punch through to the top tier. But there is a relentlessness about BURNING WITCHES. The Swiss quintet’s output is impressive with The Dark Tower, their fifth album since 2017’s eponymous debut. With a settled line-up for the past few years, the band are now starting to look like a more cohesive unit, gradually earning respect in the world of metal.

It’s evident that BURNING WITCHES want the riff front and centre. They have a solid heavy metal sound that flirts with power metal and thrash at times. Musically, the band are on point, with some neat lead work and a thumping rhythm section. The fly in the ointment remains the vocals of Laura Guldemond. Her range is impressive and she’s certainly improved since her debut on Dance With The Devil, but I can anticipate that some, including me, may find her delivery a bit shrill at times.

If you don’t have a problem with the vocals, then the next challenge is the length of the album. It’s a 13-track record, albeit you can discount intro Rise Of Darkness and the one-minute House Of Blood. It starts well enough with Unleash The Beast, a real stomper, but Renegade isn’t particularly good and the vocals absolutely destroy Evil Witch. Four songs in and the repetitive nature of the previous records is already starting to echo once more. The band are very much following the Judas Priest style and there are some very good points. The drumming anchors the band with concrete strength, the guitars lacerate and rip with razor sharp precision. But there’s drawing influence from bands and blatantly copying them. World On Fire couldn’t be more Judas Priest unless Rob Halford was singing on it. Okay, most bands recycle, but this track just hit the wrong nerve. But all isn’t lost, for the playing on it is excellent.  

BURNING WITCHES bandpicUnfortunately, you can’t say the same of Tomorrow, a rather dreary ballad whilst the title track is solid, but the vocals are a challenge. Some of the album passed in a bit of a blur if I’m honest. It was on in the background and occasionally I’d look up from what I was doing and nod my head along. Arrow Of Time is a thumping track, slower paced with a real retro classic metal feel, whilst the six-and-a half-minutes of Into The Unknown snapped me back into focus. It’s a longer, smouldering track that every album needs. And it leads neatly into the final song, The Lost Souls, which doesn’t let up the pace, although once more the vocals didn’t really help. The switching from gruff to soaring cleans not quite my bag.  

I know many will find this album exhilarating, fresh and powerful. And at times so did I. But I also found parts of it a little uninspiring. And for me, that’s the inherent problem with this band. When they hit top gear, they purr. But at times, they struggle to get out of second gear and it’s that inconsistency that for me leaves them a league or two below where they could be.

WEBSITE: https://www.burningwitches.ch
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/burningwitches666
BANDCAMP: https://burningwitches.bandcamp.com/album/the-dark-tower