Witchfinder’s second album Hazy Rites may have more songs than their 2017 debut, with fluctuating lengths to match, but it utilizes a similar stoner doom template. The guitar still dominates the mix with vibrant fuzz and riffing patterns borrowed from Electric Wizard, and the tempos are as loose and drawn out as ever. This all makes for a rather stock affair, but there are fortunately enough signs of growth for Hazy Rites to be fairly interesting.
For starters, the bass and vocals have stepped up considerably this time around. The bass has near equal footing in the mix as the guitars and even drives the rhythms on songs like the ten minute “Covendoom.” The vocals also broaden their horizons, generally opting for a prominently high-pitched wail reminiscent of Windhand or Monolord with the occasional yelled sequence slipping through. The tempos on songs like the opening “Ouija” are also brisker than the debut, an inevitability considering the adjusted runtimes.
From there, the songwriting mostly revolves around the typical doom slowness but there are some standouts to be found. “Sexual Intercourse” (Finally, somebody comes out and just says it!) is the album’s biggest outlier thanks to its tempo shifts complete with faster breakdown. “Sorry” is another one of the album’s more peculiar numbers, unapologetically drilling the same plodding riff for eight minutes straight with alternating vocals calling out the song’s title all the while. I can applaud the format but I’m also glad there aren’t any other tracks like it.
Overall, Hazy Rites shows growth for Witchfinder as a band but it’s still very much standard stoner doom affair. The broadened sonic palette is enough to put it over their rather one-note debut and the musicianship is on point, but there isn’t much substance beyond the occasional quirk. I hope the band is able to stretch themselves even further in the future but groups like Dopelord remain the best outlets to get your dank metal fix.