REVIEW: WITCHERY – “Nightside”
Sweden’s stellar blackened thrash band Witchery are back in action with their new album called Nightside. From the distant drums rolling in on the opening track until the psychedelic death trip of the final title track this album is packed with amazing songs bristling with malignant intent. For those new to Witchery, they are Patrik Jensen (guitar), Angus Norder (vocals), Chris Barkensjö (drums), Rickard Rimfält (guitar), and Victor Brandt (bass). You will note that Victor has replaced Sharlee D’Angelo. Otherwise, the lineup remains the same as that on the fantastic I Am Legion released in 2017.
The opening track called “Witching Hour” is pure Witchery thrash and roll. The drums are crisp and punchy with a bone snapping crack on the snare. Angus’s vocals are unholy and magnificent. He is a master of creating a menacing death growl that is also articulate and clear.
“Don’t Burn the Witch ” brings the main rock riff that is anthemic and infectious. I love the ballsy bass combined with the deadly down-picked guitars slicing to the bone. This savage riff bridges into one of the guest guitar solos on the album. In this case, Maciek Ofstad of Kvelertak lays down a rocker.
You can smell the stench of evil on “Er steht in Flammen” (He is on Fire). This brief tune is fierce and terrifying. The spoken words add to the terror and creeping hostility. A brilliant interlude of sadistic intent.
The riffs on “Popecrusher” could easily crossover to a Haunted tune, yet the chord accents along with Angus’s vocals blacken this into the Witchery mold. The screaming guitar solo is fantastic, but the icing on the cake is the razor-edged staccato riffs at the end of the tune. My lord, the heaviness of this attack is amazing. You’ll want to rip raw flesh in a fevered frenzy after this one.
“The Left Hand March” takes us straight to hell with insistent drums and bass. Hank Shermann (Mercyful Fate) adds another guest solo here. The diminished-sounding licks add spite to this sledgehammer song.
Slaytanic influences abound in the hammering brutality of “Under The Altar” which is another short instrumental blitz with riffs that sound like they come from Slayer’s “Postmortem” and “Seasons in the Abyss”. Nothing wrong with a bit of Slayer worship to fire up the satanity.
The tribal drums and thrumming bass opening on “Crucifix and Candle” give way to a sinister fist-pumping riff. Another guest guitar solo is provided here by Simon Johansson (Wolf). The mood of the song switches to a major feel with big open chords and underlying arpeggio that allows his wah laced solo to soar.
The final guest appearance on Nightside is by Jeff Walker (Carcass) adding his gnashing vocals to “A Forest Of Burning Coffins.” This fervid tune rages with marauding guitars, bass, and drums. Angus and Jeff’s vocals compliment each other nicely.
One last note, the mix on this album rules. Daniel Bergstrand does an outstanding job of bringing every element of Witchery’s sound into focus. The guitars are tight, the bass pops, and the drums rock. The guitar solos and vocals shine. I can’t wait to hear this on vinyl.
Nightside by Witchery is evil incarnate. Razor sharp riffs, crushing rhythms, and venomous vocals make every song not only extremely heavy but catchy as hell. The flawless production instills the album with a raw vicious tone. From stomping metal marches to unbridled demonic speed, this album is a beautifully charred slab of metal music. Ave Domini inferni Witchery!