ALBUM REVIEW: Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches – Covenant

What is a witch? What is her purpose? And more importantly, what makes her a witch? These
are the very questions Karyn Crisis (Crisis) has spent many years trying to answer during her spiritual journey and work as a psychic medium. Blessed with the gift of clairvoyance, Karyn, has always felt connected to the spiritual world. But it was when while working in Tuscany; she first saw the appearance of Aradia, an ancient witch who had taught her about healing, the witches of Tuscany, and the medicine women throughout rural Italy. It was at that moment that Karyn learned about her past life and lineage as a healer and began her journey to uncover the truth about Italy’s witches. It was also the moment that inspired Karyn to get back into music and form Gospel of the Witches. Today, they share that journey with us on their sophomore album, Covenant (Aural Music).

Since their debut album Salem’s Wounds (Century Media), Gospel of the Witches has done a
very good job of breathing new life into Occult Metal. Karyn – respected throughout the industry for her incredible voice – has taken a lot of pride with Gospel of the Witches while making sure to separate its identity from her former band, Crisis. What I love about her creative process with this project is who she recruits to be on the album. On the last record, she invited Ross Dolan and Bob Vigna of Immolation as well as Charlie Schmid of Vaura. On Covenant, she scales it back and makes it a trio with just her and her husband Davide Tiso of Ephel Duath returning along with Fabian Vestod of Skinlab on drums. I really love that she decided to make the band smaller with this record because it really made the album more intimate in terms of sound and message. Minimizing the instrumentals made the sound more raw, authentic, and tribal. It made me feel present as the listener.

The album starts with ‘Womb Of The World,’ which was a very strong introduction to
the album. Anyone who is a fan of Karyn would appreciate this track. It gives those listeners everything they have longed for when it comes to anything she has contributed to music. It has a deep, heavy rhythm and the bass and drums are amazing. The sound quality of the album is perfect! I also loved how reducing the band to three members helped achieve the ritualistic chanting style and invocations done by Karen. It made the sound more intimate and gave each person an opportunity to shine on the record.

Some of my favorite tracks were ‘Stretto Di Barba,’ which was absolutely bone-chilling.
The intro came in strong and I felt intoxicated while listening to it. I felt the energy flow through my body. ‘Great Mothers’ was one that had extremely dark melodies. This song gives you the full essence of Karyn Crisis. It speaks of the Divine Feminine Goddesses, their lineages, and the maternal communities that honored them. This song was beautifully composed and a great vindication to those women. ‘Benevento’ gave us traditional Italian folk melodies which then turns dark and is followed by deep chanting and intense drumming. This song references the infamous walnut tree that Italian witches would gather around to perform rituals. Karyn, herself, has searched for this tree but has yet to find it. Another favorite of mine ‘Janara,’ which also references the riverbank that is said to lead you to the same tree. Try listening to this song and not say “holy shit!” The chants and growls are done in Italian and this is the most intense song on the album. An honorable mention would be ‘Diana Mellifica’ which was beautifully haunting.

Overall, this album teaches us that witches are not evil beings, that their purpose is to heal others in accordance to nature, and they are not the stigmatized depictions we learned about in stories or see in the media. They were protectors of life. What I took away the most from this album is that this not a gimmick nor was it made to appeal to shock value aesthetics. It is a testament to someone’s spiritual journey, what they’ve learned, and what they are able to share with us about it.

8 / 10