Friday, March 24, 2006


Tee Pee Records

If J. Mascis plays drums in Witch, why do the squealing guitar sounds on the group’s self-titled debut sound so much like Dinosaur Jr.? Or more specifically, Dinosaur Jr. played at 45 RPMs when it should be turning at 33. This new outfit from the rural east coast once known for burning witches channels the ancient and wicked psychic malevolence of its stomping grounds through distortion, chilling rhythms and ethereal textures.

Opening cut “Seer” clocks in at just under 8 minutes of syncopated head-nod riffs. Dave Sweetapple’s mountainous bass carves a path in an avalanche of sweat and archaic wizardry.

Witch is born of a subconscious musical lineage that’s linked directly to Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Nirvana’s Bleach and even Black Sabbath circa Paranoid. As such this is a heavy metal record made by decidedly non-metal players. Vocalist Kyle Thomas and guitarist Asa Irons are on loan from Vermont’s freak folk group Feathers. They also helped shape Devendra Banhart's album, Cripple Crow. The sincerity with which they approach this project comes to fruition on the album’s dually crushing opuses “Rip Van Winkle” and “Hand of Glory.” Tenants of the indie / art rock guilds often have difficulty handling heavy metal with the respect it deserves (eg. Goblin Cock, Tenacious D et. al.) There’s nothing tongue in cheek going on here. Witch is a master of its own supernatural reality, and that reality is heavy as hell.

--Chad Radford

(Published by Flagpole Magazine, February 2006)