WITCHROT – LIVE IN THE HAMMER
LABEL: Fuzzed And Buzzed Records
RELEASE: February 10th, 2023
AUTHOR: Paul Hutchings
01. Medley – Druid Smoke Part 1 (The Keeper) / Crypt Reaper / Burn Me Down
02. Dug Your Grave / Strega
04. Who Scared You
05. Colder Hands
06. Million Shattered Swords
If you live mysterious, spell weaving psychedelic doom then this sophomore release from Canadians WITCHROT is probably for you. The quartet, who achieved a level of notoriety for their infamous social media ‘break up’ in 2018, have managed to get their stuff together and bring you “Live In The Hammer”.
Opening with an 18-minute extended medley of “Druid Smoke Part 1 (The Keeper) / Crypt Reaper / Burn Me Down”, you swiftly enter another realm, where pales of smoke drift through the air and life moves at another pace altogether. It’s a rambling jam, with fuzzy guitars, thick low-ends and crashing cymbals, whilst Lea Reto moans and wails over the top of it all.
The deep, sludgy vibe continues throughout the album, although the start of “Dug Your Grave / Strega” sees Reto in tandem with guitarist Peter Turik before the crushing bass riffs of Nick ‘Nido’ Dolphin and drummer Nick Kervin kick in. It’s a dark exploration, full of tumbling riffs and echoing lead work that bursts from the heavy fog that the band weave.
Sometimes abstract, sometimes chaotic, this is a heavyweight release which won’t tick everyone’s box. The harrowing vocals of Reto conjurer dark clouds. The tempo fluctuates between punishingly intense and ethereal calm, even on shorter tracks such as “Acedia”, a three-minute fuzzball of bass distortion.
At times, it’s a challenging listen. The apparent drifting directionless approach is, of course, integral to the band’s sound. Closing song “Million Shattered Swords” features jarring violin, like nails down the proverbial blackboard. It summarises their approach. This is music for them first and foremost. And if you don’t like it, then move on. Dark, discordant, unsettling. That’s WITCHROT summarised in this 52-minute release.