Witchery – Witchkrieg (Century Media Records)

Tuesday, 19th March 2013
Rating: 7/10

This scribe remembers a time when the grand plan for Witchery was to release an album every year, which in this day and age, is unthinkable. They were on pace during the Restless and Dead/Dead, Hot, and Ready days, with the riffs coming out of the woodwork, the ideas flowing, and the buzz-a-plenty, but the Swedes have failed to live up to that claim. Blame the Haunted, blame the long-gone Necropolis Records, whoever; Witchery is no longer the blazing thrash revelation they were in the 90’s, which is a shame – few can doll out the conniving riffs like Jensen.

After a four-year layoff, the band returns with Witchkrieg, an album that sees the induction of new throat Legion (formerly of Marduk/Devian), who isn’t as much of an improvement over ex-singer Toxine as he is just another raspy quasi-death metal vocalist. Hearing some black metal vox paired with thrash might actually be a cool idea…or not. Anyway, Legion manages to assimilate himself to Witchery’s up-tempo, totally un-melodic brand of thrash, proving that yes, you can swap out vocalists without repercussions. Toxine did have a sweet stage outfit, though.

Tracks of note include the blasting “Wearer of Wolf’s Skin,” the slightly the Haunted-tinged “The God Who Fell From Earth” and “The Reaver,” which in spite of it’s odd name (methinks they were looking for another name for “The Reaper”) is welcome return to the band’s halcyon days. Beyond that “From Dead to Worse” is the type of hearse-stealing jam we’ve come to expect, as is “Hellhound.”

Quite hard to see where Witchery fits in the thrash spectrum these days. The old guard (Exodus, Testament, Overkill) clearly has a step on these guys, which is strange, ‘cause Witchery are part of the reason why these bands are still around. It’s almost as if the long delay between albums has killed the type of free-wheeling (witch burning) thrash that was so cool in the late 90’s. Back then things were different and so was Witchery. Now, they’re shockingly average.

www.myspace.com/witcherytheband

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)