Bewitcher has always stood out for having a more melodic slant than their Blackened Speed Metal peers and that distinction is at its most apparent on their third album. The band’s Venom meets Running Wild style leans much in the latter’s favor on Cursed Be Thy Kingdom (Century Media Records). The guitar rhythms are noticeably more accessible with more flamboyant leads above them and more dynamic song structures to match. Even the blatant Welcome To Hell worship on ‘Satanic Magick Attack’ has an almost Hard Rock flair to it.
That said, the Portlandians are savvy enough to keep this bid for greater melodicism from watering down their sound. The vocals are still exclusively delivered in a throaty rasp that provides contrast to the more dynamic instrumentation. The lyrics and aesthetic also remain committed to presenting their occultisms with gleeful menace and even if there are some slower segments sprinkled in here and there, most of the songs remain preoccupied with speedy beatdowns.
Speaking of which, this mix of melody and energy combines to form some choice anthems. The one-two opening of ‘Ashe’ and ‘Death Returns…’ does a good job of starting things off, but the previously mentioned ‘Satanic Magick Attack’ is where things really get going. ‘Mystifier (White Night City)’ gets some extra flashy solos and ‘Valley Of The Raven’ has a fun mid-tempo stomp. The closing take on Pentagram’s ‘Sign Of The Wolf’ also ends up being a very pleasant surprise; the song’s inherently driving pace is conducive to the Bewitcher style and it’s better than getting the ten-millionth cover of ‘Forever My Queen.’
While Cursed Be Thy Kingdom is more of a Heavy Metal record with some kvlt-y elements than the other way around, it remains a winning combination. A more melodic approach suits Bewitcher incredibly well, highlighting their unique attributes even further while pushing their songwriting even further. I may still prefer 2019’s Under The Witching Cross by a hair, but this is just as good and makes for a strong step forward. With any luck, they’ll be able to keep evolving and get even bigger.
Buy the album here: https://bewitcher.lnk.to/CursedBeThyKingdomID
8 / 10