At first, Shadow Witch’s third album seems poised to pick up where 2017’s Disciples of the Crow left off. This is especially evident with the first two numbers as the pacing is just as energetic, the riffs have a hefty hustle, and the vocals keep up their Gillan meets Dio flavor. It’s especially impactful on “Demon’s Hook,” where the acoustic intro and fluctuating swings feel almost like a stoner rock sea shanty at work.
But getting into the meat of the album proper reveals a decidedly heavier character than before. Much of that can be attributed to the guitar tone, which exerts a bottom-heavy crunch mixed with some occasionally technical flourishes and an overall darker mood. Thankfully Shadow Witch uses this element to work in some more variety as “Witches of Aendor” exercises doom influence while “Shifter” and “Saint Magdalene” have some almost modern prog metal tinges. “Wolf Among the Sheep” and “6 x 6” border on taking it a bit too far, but there are still solid grooves to work with.
The brief acoustic introduction of the closing “Fountain” suggests a revisit of the “Demon’s Hook” format, but the song itself ends up sliding into a slow burn blues groove. Shadow Witch’s 70s influences are really pushed to the forefront as the vocals reach for Robert Plant-esque howls while the guitar solos work off a loose Free rhythm. It’s an excellent way to end the album on a slightly lighter note while allowing for one last genre excursion.
As its roundabout title would suggest, Under the Shadow of a Witch represents the group’s classic metal by way of stoner rock style quite nicely. While the album might’ve benefitted from a few more impactful hooks, the varied presentation certainly works in its favor, and the performances are consistently engaging. It’s hard to say if this is Shadow Witch’s best album thus far, but it’s a solid step forward worth checking out either way.
“Witches of Aendor”