Pressing play on Witch Fever’s debut is akin to the quartet grabbing you by the throat and thrashing you left to right for an exhilarating 40 minutes. In other words, it rocks. Whether something truly rocks or not is often hard to quantify, with many a band over the years foolishly mistaking pure volume and pedestrian pedal use to equal ‘rock.’ The bruising thirteen tracks offered by these Mancunian maniacs make me want to set something on fire – which means it’s hitting just right. Following on from last year’s much-hyped ‘Reincarnate’ EP, the group has confidently followed this early promise with a sometimes eerie yet always filthy-sounding debut.
With a sonic onslaught built upon an unholy bedrock of Sabbath, Savages, and 90s alt-rock, the group’s music is impossible to ignore. What elevates their brand of doom Punk above other 90s revivalists is the outfit’s wicked and seething attack on the patriarchy. There are big hooks, headbanging tempos, and enough fuzz to please any Stoner rock connoisseur, but the band’s brand of fuck you energy and surrealist lyrical imagery are very now. With production handled by Pigx7’s Sam Grant, tracks such as ‘I Saw You Dancing’ sound just as powerful recorded as they do live, with menacing bass and acidic guitar lines blending to create an air of total menace.
With a new generation of dream-pop kids and indie wordsmiths tearing up 6Music in recent years, it’s refreshing to see an explosive conduit of rage making waves in rock circles. Despite advancements, it’s a musical scene sadly still dominated by white blokes in black tees with grievances to bare. Nowadays, we all deserve a good scream, and songs like ‘Beauty And Grace’ do it well and from a much-needed fresh perspective. With most of the numbers coming at you like a Doc Marten to the face, a change in tempo is appreciated on the appropriately named ‘Slow Burn,’ a wonky gothic riff adding some atmosphere before the inevitable loud chorus. It is a winning combination of shadow and fire, and hopefully, it’s a mix Witch Fever decides to explore further on forthcoming material.
Happily, ‘Congregation’ is a debut just as arresting as the band’s image. At first glance, it’s a straightforward shot of punk rock fury in heavy eyeliner. Peel back the skin, though, and these tracks will give you a knowing wink. These are ragers that stay with you long after you’ve left the pit. We can’t wait to see what they do next.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart