Ever since Cathedral decided to hang up their Doom-encrusted boots, the UK has been dying for someone to fill the void with the same level of otherworldly mysticism and crushing heaviness. Obviously, we do have Conan making waves if you’re a fan of the weight of the world pounding you into the dust, but if you like your Doom with a touch more class and Sabbath flair, Witchsorrow should already be on your radar. Four albums in and the trio are still able to conjure some of the most infectious riffs and choruses, laden with vivid imagery and nihilistic sensibilities.
It’s important to reference Cathedral early so we can get Nick Ruskell’s vocal comparisons to Lee Dorrian out of the way as soon as possible. It’s uncanny; from his mournful crooning to his anguish-ridden cries. The best example of this would be ‘Demons Of The Mind’ which is sure to become a favourite among gig goers the world over thanks to its beguiling and sombre chorus. This is only amplified and improved by Chris Fielding’s brand of dense but crisp and clear production. Every riff feel like a hammer blow to the back of the head, and the lumbering, low-end bass of Emily Witch thickens the evil atmosphere that pours from the speakers, particularly when ‘The Parish’ trudges along in hypnotic fashion.
Hexenhammer (Candlelight) isn’t all one slow, Doomy note, however, as moments of Judas Priest-like groove on ‘Eternal’ add some much-needed pace and an almost jovial bounce to proceedings. The band branch out further as ‘The Parish’ ends and bleeds into ‘Like Sisyphus’ with a hazier guitar tone, producing Sabbath-esque psychedelia, before David Wilbraham(mer)’s crashing drums and Ruskell’s spiteful bark come thundering in. This dynamic closer even flirts with some sharp Black Metal tremolo picking if the haze had lulled you in too deeply.
Hexenhammer does wear its influences rather plainly on its sleeve, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a melting pot of different traditional Heavy Metal stylings that come together effortlessly to create a sophisticated record that boasts Witchsorrow’s most cohesive and memorable collection of songs to date. It’s not a rehash of things that have come before it, but rather it draws from the past without being beholden to it.