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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Witchery

Symphony for the Devil

Review by Mike Korn

It seems a crying shame that this record didn't arrive in time for inclusion in the last edition of MSJ. That issue tried to focus on spooky stuff and no band fits the bill better than Witchery, who's brand
of "horror metal" perhaps would have made them Poe's favorite metal band (if we can envision Poe headbanging it would surely be to Witchery)! These fellows have caused quite a stir in the metal underground since their debut. Now, 3 releases in, Witchery seems poised for breakout
success with "Symphony for the Devil", a record far better produced and packaged than anything they've done before. The band's formula is simple: bring all the elements that made the metal of the 1980's so memorable and update it for the new millenium. The songs are short...no ten minute epics here.., catchy and reek with the odor of great bands like Exodus, Slayer, Mercyful Fate, Accept and even Ozzy's Rhoads-era records. Throw in some fairly tongue in cheek horror imagery and just a
dash of modern black metal sensibility and you have Witchery. Although I don't think it's quite the overwhelming all-time masterpiece that their label Necropolis does, I do recommend "Symphony for the Devil" to every true blue headbanger who still has a denim vest with a "Ride the Lightning" patch on. The spirit of the 80's lives on in Witchery!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Storm
The first track bursts in on you just like its namesake. You immediately notice the clearer, almost bell-like tone in the guitar. This is an all-out thrash attack with brutal verse riffing and those raspy sandpaper vocals from Toxine - excellent opener!
Unholy Wars
The fury only increases with this track. It reminds me just a tad of classic Possessed. The staccato tumbling guitar riff here is the best on the record!
Inquisition
The pace slows a bit here for a track that might more properly be called power metal. It still has a stalking, menacing feel to it and the chorus, with Toxine sounding more gruesome than ever, is quite inventive.
Omens
The most average track on the album, it shows a melody somewhat in the vein of early Ozzy and Savatage, but I thought it was pretty plodding. A powerful chug shows up too late to save the track.
Bone Mill
This could have been on any of the first 3 Exodus albums. It is pure Bay Area thrash, sure to bring a bloody tear to the eye of an old-school thrasher. It is also the first of the record's instrumentals.
None Buried Deeper
Bassist Sharlee D'Angelo intimated that this was the most Ozzy influenced track here. I can hear some of that but it's not overwhelmingly obvious. This is a more mid-paced, melodic (but still heavy track) where the guitar work of Richard Corpse stands out.
Wicked
"Wicked" is another great thrasher, with more than a little Slayer feel to it. This has the raw feel that made 80's metal so great. It is a live killer for sure!
Called For By Death
Maybe the heaviest track in terms of guitar sound, this has sort of an evil gallop to it, and reminds me of classic Black Sabbath. It again shows Witchery's early 80's influences but updated in a totally unique way. The number features more great lead guitar.
Hearse of the Pharaohs
The second of the album's instrumentals, if "Bone Mill" was a tribute to Exodus, this one is a tip of the top hat to Mercyful Fate. It even features Fate guitarist Hank Sherman sitting in. An orgy of classy lead guitar work and atmospheric "Egyptian" riffing make this a standout.
Shallow Grave
This is a good typical Witchery thrasher, but I would have perhaps exchanged this with "Wicked", as that was a better track.
Enshrined
The first of two bonus tracks, this is resurrected from Witchery's days as Satanic Slaughter. Very powerful and heavy stuff, it has more of a death metal influence. It is really catchy and concise.
The One Within
Another gem from the SS days, this is much like "Enshrined", skimming the border between thrash and death metal.
 
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