Space Witch – Arcanum

Rating

I don’t say this very often, but Space Witch really sucked me in with the 16-minute opening track on this album. Personally, when I see a song that long from a band I’ve never heard before, right off the bat, I drop that promo out of my inbox like it’s life with bong in hand. But man, their space-rock stylings took me right up to the riff-filled land… and beyond!

“Cosmonoid,” as it’s known, kicks off inconspicuously with a series of swirling space effects, followed by a lone, solo bass line. From there, it glides along slowly, its trance-like OM effect accented by some swirling keys, before the first heavy cosmic doom riff kicks in just past the 4:30 mark, paired with soaring synths for an added space-rock effect. The tune slows to a crawl, signalling a change of pace that begins around the 9:30 mark, as they up the tempo considerably, veering off toward Earthless territory or even Over-Gain Optimal Death (whatever happened to those guys?). Another downshift in tempo past the 11-minute mark is paired with the synth effect from Sweet’s “Fox on the Run,” before they hit us with another dose of spaced-out doom, complete with monastery chanting—the only vocals on this track. One final, fuzz-heavy riff takes us through to the conclusion, with a few effect-laden detours along the way.

There are three more songs on this album, running just shy of 44 minutes in total. “Astro Genocide” is a relatively compact stoner-doom track, clocking in at six minutes. These riffs bring Sleep to mind, but the soaring keyboards could almost be considered a lead instrument. It slows to a near-stop just shy of two minutes, with a winding riff accented by digital shrieks, before they hit the fuzz pedal and layer on some more distortion. This same guitar line winds down and up again a couple times over its runtime, before the band adopts a slightly more mid-paced approach for a couple measures, with the first proper vocal kicking in right around the four-minute mark. We even get some spoken-word in the final minute there, before they pick things up to a more death-metal tempo… but the riffs are definitely the star of the show!

“Hex” actually begins with some acid-jazz saxophone, paired with sleigh bells(!), before they take a more straight-forward sludge approach less than a minute in. This one actually kinda reminds me of Negative Reaction, especially in the vocal department. There is a bit of a spacey keyboard interlude around the midway mark, as things take a mellower turn… but it’s not long before the heavy guitars return.

The album ends on another epic note, with the 12-and-a-half-minute “Battle Hag.” This might be the heaviest number on the whole darn record, as it bashes yer head in right off the bat with some doomy downstrokes and pummelling percussion. From there, a slow buildup begins before the four-minute mark, moving on a mid-paced attack a la High on Fire… but with keyboards in the background. We get a slow, spacey reset around the midway mark, leading us to an eerie, keyboard-driven passage, with tones straight outta the 80’s. The riffs return with three minutes to go, although the keys still feature prominently from this point on. Suffice to say, there’s nary a dull moment with this one…

spacewitch.bandcamp.com

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Gruesome Greg

Seahawks/Stamps/Flames/Zags/Jays/Raptors fan and lifelong metal head with a beer gut and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Reviewer/blogger (Yon Senior Doomsayer) for Hellbound.ca.

8.0 Rating