As if the “Mississippi Queen” wink that kicks off the band’s title song wasn’t enough to tip you off, Witchers Creed really love themselves some 70s rock. A loose drum performance sets the stage for classic Sabbath-style guitar/bass interplay on their self-titled debut, while the nasally snarls conjure a fascinating mix of Rod Evans circa-Captain Beyond and Gene Simmons. The ominous overcast evokes classic doom, but this Swedish group’s first full-length is protometal to the core.
The production helps highlight the intended vision. Everything has that raw, hazy vibe as the vocals are delivered in a brawny echo, the guitars and bass are caked in distortion, and the cymbals carry endless clamors. It’s the sort of album that can make you feel you’re there in the rehearsal room, yet there’s no real sense of anybody trying to get louder than anybody else. The presentation doesn’t quite have the same authenticity as Witchcraft or Dunbarrow, but it suits the material.
The songwriting also manages to be quite solid, often dealing with loosely developing structures. It makes for a fair amount of variety as songs like “Depths of the Black Void” and “Raven’s Claw” (Named after the best Hogwarts house no doubt) put some straightforward rock in the first half that “Larissa” drives into a more psyched out direction. The album’s second half features the band’s darkest influences at play with “Salem (Resurrection)” making the most of those heavy Sabbath tinges.
Overall, Witchers Creed’s debut album is a strong first impression that will sit well with old school rock fans. It’s a rather derivative listen but avoids being one-dimensional due to the varied songwriting, strong performances, and overall darker take on the style than usual. It’s not as adventurous as MK I-era Deep Purple or as relentless as 70s-era Pentagram, but it’s at a nice spot in between.
“Depths of the Black Void”