WITCHSORROW
"Witchsorrow"

(Metal Blade)

01. The Agony
02. The Trial of Elizabeth Clarke
03. Gomorrah
04. Thou art Cursed
05. Impaler, Tepes

RATING: 7/10

Released appropriately enough on Rise Above Records in Europe earlier this year, WITCHSORROW's self-titled debut now sees release this month in North America via Metal Blade Records. Knowing bare boned, traditional doom metal when they hear it (YOB anyone?), the label surely didn't make the decision to unleash the UK act's long-player (literally) for its commercial breakout potential.

Consisting of five songs, four of which exceed the nine-minute mark, WITCHSORROW rolls big trad-doom boulders down mountainsides and wrings out as much blood, sweat, and forlorn tears out of each fat riff and thunder beat as inhumanly possible. Guitarist/vocalist Necroskull sounds like a grittier Lee Dorrian (CATHEDRAL) and the slow-death cadences and licks seem to be most notably culled from the works of ELECTRIC WIZARD, REVEREND BIZARRE, and PENANCE. But then it always comes back to early BLACK SABBATH, doesn't it? You can hear it in a big way when the trio breaks for a classic Iommi — perhaps as reinterpreted by ELECTRIC WIZARD reinterpreting KYUSS — riff and up-tempo, cymbal-riding Bill Ward beat at the nine-minute mark of "Thou Art Cursed". It is a welcome shift after nine minutes of airy picking and fuzz-choked electric crush that leaves little air left in the coffin until the lid is ripped off its hinges by the aforementioned riff. It is also important to note that Necroskull's guitar solos throughout the album bring out the goose bumps.

I suspect the picture is forming quite clearly in your mind at this point and detailed analysis is unnecessary, except to note that while the emphasis is on sizzle-crawling, slow-burning, and dirge plowing, the tempos change just often enough — in the most relative of senses - to stave of funeral dooming excess. The mid-tempo turn on "The Trial of Elizabeth Clarke" is but one example of a welcome release from the house that tension built. The D-Heads have already anointed this one doom metal royalty. Everyone else will hear it more clearly as a mighty fine representation of traditional doom, but hardly an imaginative or expansive one. Stout, sturdy, solid…take your pick.

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