King Witch – Body of Light

     There is no doubt that Scottish purveyors of doom King Witch bring their “A” game with their latest full length album Body of Light.  They throw their heart and soul into this album through the unabashed flexing of their creativity, musicality and song crafting skills.  It has a bit of everything on it and shows the dynamism of the band in both its playing and delivery.  They are obviously a versatile band with potential and an ability to tinker in many different genres of metal and sub genres of doom.  However, this “everything and the kitchen sink” approach might prove to be too much with mid song tempo changes and ever evolving and unfolding songmanship not only from one track to the next, but within each song as well.  Most of the songs on this album are transmogrified with evolution and imbued with progression. 

      “Body of Light” is a good opener for the album, it’s a nice introduction to the heavy sound King Witch brings.  Their sound is clearly founded in the epic/traditional doom genres but “Body of Light” along with other songs, reach beyond those particular categorical confines delving into funky, unusual, yet interesting progressive hintings.  The last two minutes of the song break out with a synth like spinning guitar, syncopated slap bass and proggy drum break downs.  It’s an odd turn for the last few minutes of a five minute song but it is well done.  This song is the first sign that the bass guitar is buried way too deep in the mix.  It is hard to make out the bass at all and later in the album makes for a few awkward moments. There are times when it sounds like the rest of the band is hushed and/or silent for a bass guitar centric opportunity that is never fully realized due to some lackluster combination of mixing or production choices.

      “Return to Dust” is another song that shows the multitude of influences that forged, tempered and honed the metal musings of King Witch.   The song starts off with a reverby, Sergio Leone, spaghetti western guitar intro that leads down a path to a surf rock style of wavelike cymbal crashing.  I hear the Ventures loud and clear.  In true King Witch fashion they blend and bend this surf sound in a way that it adds pep and movement to a heavier, doom stuffed, haunt of a song.  Sadly this song is an example of when the rest of the band is making way and hanging around in support of bass guitar elements that simply do not come through to the listener and cannot be heard.  

      “Order From Chaos” falls dead center of this album with four songs before and four songs after.  It starts with a reverb laden guitar playing a dingy Sabbathian riff that makes way for a vocal showcase by Laura Donnelly.  Although Donnelly possesses great range in her operatic arsenal, she has a primal, rugged, wildness that sets her apart.  Her vocal bombardment has a strength and range of Messiah Marcolin.  She shows similarity to the legendary Candlemass frontman by often launching into the stratosphere, reaching for high notes at a moments notice.  However, whereas Messiah’s delivery had a refinement and a polished bravado to it, Donnellys execution takes refinement and stuffs it with nails, gun powder, and your grandmas silverware, lights it and throws it down the street; blasting the notes full of her own dings and dents making it undeniably hers.  She sings with guts.

     “The Solstice I-She Burns” is well played and has strong components but lacks editing, which is an ongoing theme for this album.  King Witch proves, albeit unnecessarily, that they are quite diverse in the song writing and musical abilities.  They display a cascading array of influences from innumerable genres.  Though “doomy” throughout the album, they still are not afraid to inject bits and pieces grifted and gleaned from other forms of heavy music and weave them into their mesh of doom.  However, sometimes I think it’s better to focus in on a bit more tangible, narrowed approach.  Jamming each song with so many different styles and influences can distract the listener and detract from the main framework of the band’s sound.  Some spice and flavor used purposefully and sparingly can bring out the best in the ingredients.  If you dump an entire spice rack in your hamburgers it is going to be overwhelming.  King Witch has the ability, they just need to find the restraint.  You don’t need to use every color in a painting.  “Solstice I-She Burns” sounds like two or three songs stitched together.  Making one, paired down, sleek, efficient song would have been a much better choice.  It feels like this song has two kitchen sinks in it.

     This is a good album, without doubt.  Fans of Candlemass, and Spirit Adrift, will find a home here.  King Witch proves they are a very capable band with a way to take samples from many outlying genres and pertinently pull them into their heavy, doom sound.  Unfortunately, by letting songs shift and morph two and three times per song, swimming fluidly from one style to the next may leave the listener a bit lost and confused.  Any shortcomings of the album stem from editing not a lack of talent.  King Witch  needs to grab the listener and run down the path.  No one wants to read every placard in a museum, it’s too much.  They need to get some conciseness, get in get out.  If this album had a run time of 45 minutes not almost an hour as it stands now, it would have been awesome and a must buy.  It will be interesting to see on their next album what they chose to do and more fascinating to see what they chose not to do.

Track Listing:

  1. Body of Light
  2. Of Rock and Stone
  3. Call of the Hunter
  4. Return to Dust
  5. Order From Chaos
  6. Solstice I/She Burns
  7. Witches Mark
  8. Solstice II
  9. Beyond the Black Gate

Released April 2020 via Listenable Records.