Witchery – In His Infernal Majesty’s Service (Century Media)Wednesday, 9th November 2016
Witchery has been pushed off the thrash radar, perhaps deservedly so after the so-so offerings that were 2006’s Don’t Fear the Reaper and 2010’s even more average Witchkrieg. Both were a semi-surprising reversal in fortunes for a band who threatened to re-write the entire Euro thrash map upon their entrance in the late ‘90s. Whether the Swedes’ ills were a product on continual lineup changes or the riff well drying up for Patrik Jensen (also of the Haunted) is up for debate, but, it’s certainly of some relief and/or encouragement that In His Infernal Majesty’s Service is such a stormer.
Joined by new vocalist Angus Norder and drummer Christofer Barkensjö, Witchery appears to have received a shot in the arm. Granted, vocals in Witchery have always been a secondary facet (they’re somewhere between black metal rasps and a thrash cackle), yet Norder gets in his jabs, as so heard on the punishing “Zoroast,” and “The Burning of Salem.” Better yet, the light, almost loose vibe of early albums like Dead, Hot, and Ready is present on the aforementioned “Zoroast” or the simply rollicking “Empty Tombs,” which finds Witchery thrash-pelting like it was 1999.
Due credit goes to Jensen, who tends to get forgotten in the riff-writing discussion because of the Haunted’s up-and-down career and Witchery’s lack of productivity. He’s back on his game here, resulting in the best Witchery offering since 2001’s blistering and blazing Symphony for the Devil, a would-be next-level album that never quite materialized. Fifteen years since they last made a stellar album, Witchery has regained their thrash stride with In His Infernal Majesty’s Service.