2018 has already been a pretty stellar year for doom. So far we’ve been smacked upside the head with killer releases from the old masters Sleep, as well as a host of young whippersnappers such as Green Druid and Chrch , making it a damn fine time to be a fan of all things sluggish and Sabbathy.
I’m happy to report that you can add UK trio Witchsorrow to that short list of this year’s slow ‘n’ low luminaries, because their fourth album Hexenhammer is easily their finest release to date. These guys (and gal) have stepped up their game in a big way, not by reinventing the wheel, but by honing their craft and just being damn good at doom.
Whereas the band’s previous albums were often solid if a little unspectacular, Witchsorrow have really gone out of their way to make the seven tracks that comprise Hexenhammer catchy and memorable, showing vast improvements in every single aspect of their approach. Songs such as “Demons of the Mind” “Like Sisyphus” and the title track can easily go toe to toe with the best the genre has to offer in 2018, unleashing glacially paced avalanches of oppressive riffage, a metric fuck-ton of low end rumble and vocals that sound uncannily like Cathedral’s Lee Dorrian presiding over a satanic ritual. It’s a tried and true recipe to be sure, but Witchsorrow make it their own and bend it to their iron will in order to achieve excellence.
Hexenhammer was recorded at Skyhammer studio (that’s a lotta hammers) with Conan bassist/vocalist Chris Fielding. Fielding has manned the boards for all of Witchsorrow’s full lengths (not to mention bangers from other bands such as Primordial, Cerebral Bore and Electric Wizard, to name but a few) and knows a thing or two about capturing heavy tunes on tape, but it seems that he lends a few extra layers of grit, grime and all-out heaviness to Hexenhammer. At the appropriate volume (THKD recommends turning it up to eleven), this thing pummels like getting repeatedly hit over the head with a burlap bag filled with rusty, uh, hammers in slow motion.
Given the number of “big name” doom releases this year (Sleep, Yob, Candlemass, etc), it’d be easy to let Hexenhammer fly under the radar, but whoa unto those that do, because Witchsorrow have finally proven that they can hang and then some.