The Haunting Astral Witch!
Band: Astral Witch
Album: Astral Witch
Style: Doom, Fuzz
Release Date: May 23, 2020
Astral Witch are a three-piece band from Ontario that are, by their own admission, inspired by crystal magic and fueled by beer. And you can feel all of that in here, in every nook and cranny of their sound, which is thick and cramped, the buzz and fuzz enough to rattle the fillings in your teeth. Every person in this band is no slouch when it comes to their instruments, Alyssa on guitar and vox, Jon on bass and vox, and Jen not only keeping time, but adding massive fills back there on her kit, drums and vox. The new album is a self-titled affair, and really it’s their first true album, the other two releases being an EP (Bang-Over) and a 7” (Love/Strange Things [Altar Box Record]), the band not what they are today, and what they are today is heavy, heavy, heavy.
Eight songs fill out this record, and each one is full of crushing riffs. The thing that stands out most to me over the course of this record is the sheer soul of the music, carried in the instruments, yes, but just as much in the singing. The riffs are heavy, chopping and bludgeoning, and that bass snakes and worms and fills up so much space with its bottom end it sounds more like an army rather than a single guy playing. Jen finds the spots to fill in with some nice cymbal work when she isn’t propelling the song forward with a rock-steady beat, again, hitting those ripples that need filling out. Opener “Rune” is dark and brooding before crashing in, lots of swinging swagger, introducing the new album with a tidal wave of aplomb. Songs like “Love” are weirdly defiant, the guitars slashing but Doom-ridden, a plodding march across an arid desert of death, determined and grindingly relentless. “Witch Knife” fuzzes and rattles, the cabinets shaking, maybe the most Sabbath song of the record, which is saying something. Everything is drenched with a wicked, witchy, occult vibe. Maybe that’s just the tarot-card cover, or the ethereal feel to everything, but I have to say it’s more than that. It sounds like they recorded this record in a cavernous mansion where a series of séances just took place, and the dead still have some things to say.
All in all, fans of Doom, of Fuzz and Psychedelic-tinged hard rock goodness, should find something to please them here. There are a lot of bands that cover this same ground, but very few feel authentic. Most of these kinds of groups are more about playing dress-up, taking a trip to the spooky circus, but Astral Witch isn’t about that vibe at all. This is lived, hard-earned, and spectacularly heavy. Give them a shot and you might find yourself becoming a big fan of the Doom from the North.