Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Acid Witch - Stoned (2011)

Acid Witch [ MySpace ]

In 2008, the Detroit trio known as Acid Witch arrived on the metal scene with their debut release Witchtanic Hallucinations, an album that bucked trends and garnered quite a bit of attention. The band (Shagrat, Slasher Dave, and Lasse Pyykkö) drew on their love of '70s horror films and early doom metal - along with copious amounts of herbaceous inspiration - to create a very niche style of ghoulish stoner doom. The Halloween freaks are back at it with Stoned and, even though they've parted ways with Lasse, Acid Witch remains in a league all their own.

Stoned does not mark a shift in direction for Acid Witch. It is, essentially, in the very same vein as Witchtanic Hallucinations...and that's what makes it so good. Since the debut, Dave and Shagrat have tightened things up a bit and this results in a more cohesive, enjoyable listen. Make no mistakes, though, these guys are still out to have fun and you can hear it in the campy lyrics, the ultra groovy riffs, and the overall "haunted house" atmosphere.

Like any good horror film, Stoned starts of with a creepy intro track featuring a narrative explanation of the "Satanic Faith". I wish I knew my horror flicks better so that I could credit the actor and film the sample is drawn from, but alas I cannot. Once it's established that the Children of Satan are "striking back at the world of technology through the magic of witchcraft", the pure '70s fuzz that makes up the opening riffs of "Witchfynder Finder" oozes into existence. One of the many highlights of Stoned, this track manifests the best of bands such as Orange Goblin and - not surprisingly - Witchfinder General. Groovy, fuzzed-out riffs with infectious melody chug along as sharp leads meander alongside gurgly, deathish vocals. Gruffly growled, the lyrics are nevertheless decipherable and, if sung cleanly, Acid Witch would lose considerable charm.

The bedrock that Stoned is built upon are the monumentally heavy riffs, often fuzzed out and frequently matched with reverb-laden solos. "If Hell Exists", the grooviest, most head-bobbin' track on the album serves up heaping helpings of the down-tuned monsters over its five-minute run. The wonderfully titled "Metal Movie Marijuana Massacre Meltdown" is equally heavy and gains points with me by alluding to the cheese of '80s horror films like Black Roses and Trick or Treat (a classic, IMHO).

Another facet to the retro-doom sound on Stoned is the tasteful use of the Hammond organ, a nod to Acid Witch's Deep Purple influence. "Trick or Treat" is the first track where the organ bubbles to the surface in more than a supporting role, at times evoking images of The Munsters. The keys get a little spacey on "Stoned to the Grave", but whatever the context they heighten both the horror imagery and retro groove the band was aiming for.

The guys of Acid Witch have set out to make music that doesn't follow any fads or conform to any formula, other than to pay homage to their particular interests and influences. They had fun making Stoned, and you'll have just as much enjoyment while you consume it.

Track Listing
1Satanic Faith2:01
2Witchfynder Finder3:59
3Trick or Treat4:24
4Thundering Hooves3:08
5Live Forever4:00
6Whispers in the Dark2:51
7If Hell Exists5:15
8Stoned to the Grave5:31
9Metal Movie Marijuana Massacre Meltdown3:23
10Sabbath of the Undead5:51
Total Runtime40:25

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