When heavy metal is good, it’s some of the best sounds ever made by man. And when it’s bad, it is fucking awful. Sadly, WitchfyreGrimorium Verum falls very much into the second bucket.
The debut album from the Spanish five-piece drinks deep from the well of NWOBHM as well as the likes of Mercyful Fate. What follows, however, is eight tracks of paint by numbers metal; the classic gallop, the slow epic, the fast one, the mid-paced chugger, all complete with a some air-guitar solos and plenty of Judas Priest-esque wailing.
From the off things aren’t right; the faux demonic spoken word intro of Devil’s Child is borderline parody. While it improves from there things rarely hit anything that can be classed as a ‘classic’; competent but forgettable song following competent but forgettable song.
The main problem here though is the vocals. Emi Metal sounds like he is trying to combine the worst of Axl Rose and Dave Mustaine. The highs are squeals, the lows lacking the King Diamond-like evil they’re aiming for. At best it’s passable, at worst cringe-worthy.
To give credit where credit is due, there’s plenty of galloping riffs, some high energy moments, and the band have captured the vintage NWOBHM feel. ‘Lord of the Underworld’ has some nice Iron Maiden-inspired solos. ‘Behind the World’ has a decent groove.
Given the glut of high-quality trad metal that’s out there at the moment, there’s no reason to make do with sub-par. There’s nothing on show that hasn’t been done plenty of times before and better.
Witchfyre are not the worst thing you’ll ever hear. ButGrimorium Verumis probably the least enjoyable record I’ve been tasked with reviewing all year. Strong pass.