Album review: BURNING WITCHES – s/t


BW Records/Non-Stop Music [Release date: 29.05.17]

It’s a shame about the hackneyed packaging of this all-girl Swiss metal band as leather-clad goddesses and the ridiculously-penned demonic and dark subject material. Because beneath all that vaguely comedic chaff, there are some good moments and a decent vocal presence struggling to break free.

Burning Witches were put together by guitarist Romana Kalkuhl in 2015 and this is their debut album. Musically it is mostly traditional metal with a few clumsy speed/thrash references stitched in and the odd melodic sections grafted on.

The album is an uncomfortably schizophrenic outing, but there are some real nuggets of joy here. Take opener ‘Black Widow’ which screams from the speakers like ‘Freewheel Burning’, all shiny, angular and angsty. ‘Burning Witches’ is also a thumping good track, for the most part ploughing a fertile metal groove. Thick riffs, thunderous drumming and Seraina Telli’s catchy vocals spanning more octaves than I can count on one hand.

The best melodic moment is provided by ‘Save Me’, a decent enough metal ballad with all the building blocks in the right places: acoustic interludes, pace changes, a ballsy riff, and a centrepiece solo all knitted together with a really good, soaring vocal.

However, for me the songs fall down where that template has been messed with. Tracks like ‘Bloody Rose’ and ‘Dark Companion’ suffer from totally unconvincing death, growl, screamo moments and arrangements that are more cringeworthy than they are chilling. It doesn’t work.

The same goes for the fantasy and horror imagery. Material such as ‘We Eat Your Children’ and ‘Creator Of Hell’ is either weak post-ironic humour, or (more likely) dated and disheartening guff. The production also echoes a mid-80’s euro-metal feel, which I guess is deliberate.

Back to the positive stuff. ‘The Deathlist’ is a fair shot at an anthemic epic which packs in some uplifting moments; and including a cover of Priest’s excellent ‘Jawbreaker’ to close the album is a nod to the band’s true calling.

Overall, the eclectic approach has more in common with one of Frankenstein’s creations than it has with a diverse melting pot of power and passion. Approach with caution, but do not abandon all hope. ***

Review by Dave Atkinson

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