I first saw this Hamilton outfit when they were a guitar/drums duo; Astral Witch have since added a bassist/occasional lead vocalist to the mix, giving their sound some added dynamics on their self-titled debut.
Astral Witch begins with a doomy bass line on “Rune” before the rest of the band comes grooving up slowly, adding a nice, heavy stoner/doom guitar riff to the mix. Male vocals take the lead on the first verse, giving way to a vicious female howl the second time around, before combining forces on the third stanza ahead of a swirling guitar solo. ‘Tis a pretty solid opener.
“Embodied” is more of a melancholy, six-minute gothic waltz, lacking much of the punch of its predecessor. Fans of the first Ides of Gemini might find some similarities here. “Love” is driven by a sickly-sweet female vocal and a creepy, bleak backdrop that would make Peter Steele proud, though it may come off as a little plodding. “Blood III” borders on shoegaze, with a touch of grunge.
Fifth track “Black Denim” is the next decent slice of doom, with a slithering riff reminiscent of Saint Vitus. Coincidentally, it’s also the first song to feature a male lead vocal since the opener—although the siren scream of “Goodbye” steals the show on the chorus. The next track, “86ed” makes good use of a similarly gloomy tempo, with female vocals effectively taking the lead, before “Witch Knife” introduces perhaps the best riff on the record, a slinking, retro-fied lick that displays shades of Pentagram and an equally eerie refrain—“Now we have come to take your soul!”
After a trio of solid tracks, lighter, airy album-closer “The Letter” is a bit of a buzzkill. But this debut album has its share of promising moments, nevertheless.