Attic – Return of the Witchfinder (Ván Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

The marriage of the occult with metal has been constant since the birth of the movement. German band Attic are an important part of keeping both traditions alive – putting out two strong albums since arriving on the scene in 2010, their debut The Invocation in 2012 followed by Sanctimonious five years later for 2017. Additional imagery advocates the evil stance even more – from the band logo on through to the promo photos with candelabras, skulls, and members in various forms of corpse paint. Seven years have passed as we hear this third album Return of the Witchfinder, where the quintet pulls from both sides of the traditional / extreme platforms, ensuring another classic staple to appease the faithful while garnering praise sticking to what makes them special.

Everything makes sense, even in the chaotic sequences where Mercyful Fate-ish guitar work or high falsettos sit side by side with furious blackened blasts on the drums. Or doom riffs with exquisite lead breaks unfolding next to multi-octave low to upper register vocals in the best King Diamond-esque tradition for standout track “The Thief’s Candle”. Katte and Max Povver showcase numerous licks, tricks, rhythms and harmony situations that captivate, with that classic meets neoclassical touch that Iron Maiden or early NWOBHM followers devour – one listen to their work in “The Baleful Baron” or the title cut attests to their killer abilities. Somber bells add mystique to the mid-tempo, neoclassical-like riff parade that keeps “Darkest Rites” top of mind, vocalist Meister Cagliostro using all facets of his delivery from terror-filled melodies to inhuman screams to match the roller coaster musical parts. The two interludes “The Covenant” and “Up In the Castle” serve not only as aural breathers but chilling atmosphere dynamics to set up the next proper song that gallops into your soul.

Pulling from a mix of older classic influences with a bit more of that evil blackened touch when needed, Attic has plenty in the tank to keep you motivated album by album. Return of the Witchfinder doubles down on all their influences, in turn serving up a delightful occult metal effort that has appeal for not just the original generation who followed the scene, but the second/third offspring as well.

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