Burning Witches – Dance with the Devil (Nuclear Blast)Monday, 2nd March 2020
Judging bands based on the music seems to be a lost art form in heavy metal. So many people these days want to pay attention to imagery, titles, artwork, presentation – or in the case of Burning Witches, the fact that they are an all-female metal band. At this point with their third full-length Dance with the Devil though, musical ability, songwriting craft, and talent should outweigh any of those concerns – even as their latest vocalist Laura Guldemond makes her first full album appearance with the quintet. After numerous playbacks, it’s evident these ladies understand how to create and deliver a compelling effort that showcases a love of heavy metal with melody, harmony, and heaviness in a multitude of ways.
It’s the little details that make all the difference – from the chiming bell sound effects and vicious, darker screams and bellows for “Lucid Nightmare”, the straight-forward arena-ready riff hooks and supplementary guitar hero lead breaks that prop up the title track on through to the emotionally-driven calmer musical lines and lower register vocal harmonies for the ballad “Black Magic”, Burning Witches excel at creating those key aural moments that allow for long-term retention. Plenty of Priest-driven double kick activities still steal the show during “Wings of Steel” and “Necronomicon”, but there’s also a fun, upbeat aspect a la the 80’s US metal scene for “The Sisters of Fate” where fists of devil horned fury and unison headbanging between the musicians and the patrons could simultaneously erupt. As guitarists Sonia Nusselder and Romana Kalkuhl compel through their mix of arpeggio-laced tricks and solid rhythms with the right bluesy charm – the riffs, transitions, and solos have purpose, be it circular and churning at a comfortable anthem pace for “Six Feet Underground”, or a bit more adventurous and battle ready during “Threefold Return”. The ladies also tackle “Battle Hymns”, the ultimate Manowar anthem – with special guests Ross the Boss and Mike LePond lending their guitar/bass accents to the cause.
A worthy successor to Hexenhammer, Dance with the Devil keeps the flame burning for traditional heavy metal. If you love the 80’s to early 90’s Judas Priest catalog along with a healthy dose of Dio, Iron Maiden, and Manowar, Burning Witches keep that spirit and energy of those bands alive and breathing in their work.