KING WITCH
"Body Of Light"

(Listenable)

01. Body Of Light
02. Of Rock And Stone
03. Call Of The Hunter
04. Return To Dust
05. Order From Chaos
06. Solstice I – She Burns
07. Witches Mark
08. Solstice II
09. Beyond The Black Gate

RATING: 8.5/10

There was no mistaking the huge potential in KING WITCH's music from the very start. From a stellar debut demo to 2018's thunderous and commanding "Under The Mountain" full-length, the Scottish quartet have reveled in a clear vision and self-evident shared chemistry, not to mention some genuinely great songs. Pitched firmly in doom-laden, SABBATH-ian territory, but with plenty of classic '70s rock and '80s trad metal hurled into the mix, KING WITCH could easily have disappeared amid hordes of like-minded bands. Thankfully, armed with frontwoman Laura Donnelly's truly extraordinary voice as a not-so-secret weapon and a palpable instinct for channeling the greats of heavy music, the Scots have now fully blossomed. "Body Of Light" is simply world class.

What really takes the breath away here is how far beyond the last album's inventive but avowedly traditional approach KING WITCH have progressed. "Body of Light" is epic, adventurous and fearless. Metal's traditions are respectfully observed throughout, of course, but this is a snapshot of a band exhilarated by newly acquired superpowers, both in terms of songwriting and execution.

The opening title track is a particularly bombastic entry point, with Donnelly soaring through a maelstrom of obsidian riffing, but it's "Of Rock And Stone" that promises to reduce people to emotional, head-banging wrecks: this is bombastic, progressive and fervently dramatic heavy metal, like Dio-era RAINBOW or CATHEDRAL at their most freaked out. Once again, Donnelly thrives in the eye of the storm — a commanding but nuanced powerhouse, delivering sinister sermons with evangelical zeal. During the opulent and furious "Solstice I — She Burns", KING WITCH's real-time evolution is almost comically exhilarating. There's a rawness to the production that will leave you in no doubt that this is a living, breathing, shit-kicking live band, momentarily captured for posterity.

But "Body Of Light" sounds huge, too, perhaps it's the sheer, bloated girth of these songs, stuffed as they are with titanic riffs, inspired detours and delicious moments of arena-friendly indulgence. Or maybe it's just that KING WITCH have hit their stride and grabbed this mercurial moment with eight, sinewy hands. Just listen to the sheer energy propelling "Witches Mark" along: you can practically hear the band grinning at each other while pissing sweat in all directions. By the time the languid, pulverizing march-to-death of "Beyond The Black Gate" brings this monstrous record to a close, its creators' transformation from promising newbies to imperious masters of their craft is complete. There is definitely no mistaking the sound of potential fulfilled. This is a monster.

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