Detroit’s Acid Witch have maintained admirable quality across their slow-burning career.
With no record in seven years though, fears were that their candle had guttered low enough to go out.
Like a hungry undead antagnoist, they’ve suddently returned out of nowhere to deliver a brand new chapter.
‘Evil Sound Screamers’ was released right on the stroke of Halloween, a nice touch from a band that have have successfully imbued their previous two album with a noxious October atmosphere.
The more recent ‘Midnight Movies’ was a gem of an EP; taking some ramshackle, super-catchy covers and splicing them up with short but beautiful sample choices.
‘Stoned’, their last full record, was a particularly fine slab of swinging Doom metal.
It prioritized slow, bulldozer hooks with nutty sounding vocals to great effect, not least on the killer title track.
At their best, the band can bath their music in a sickly orange miasma, not unlike what Type O could manage with their famous green.
Given the long break, it was unlikely ‘Evil Sound Screamers’ was going to be a carbon copy of their older stuff. Ultimately, it’s a bit like a trick-or-treat bag at the end of the night: plenty of good stuff, and a few things that you look right past.
The band again samples to strong effect throughout, with a particularly grim intro adding some nice thematic purpose to the record. Then though, ‘Mr. Beistle’ comes in and just seems to fall short of that built-up expectation mark.
All the Acid Witch elements are there, but the repetitiveness and short-loop simplicity of the track seem to blunt it.
Quickly enough though, things are much better on follow-up ‘I Hate Halloween’, with a strong main riff ruling all before it and the acidic vocals spitting out the song title.
Singer Slasher Dave is at his best in Acid Witch delivering big nasty choruses, and he really seems to revel in it. He has a standout moment during ‘Cheap Gore’, with the swirling riff behind producing a positively Carcass-like effect. So far, so creepy.
Oddly though, the band then decide to spill the wind out of their sales with a long, droning intro to ‘Mutilation Mansion’. Again, we seem to be presented with a see-saw in quality that typifies the album.
Those big, anthemic moments that they can dish out – they do come, but they’re pretty rare.
Part of that might be down to the sizable role that the samples are playing in Acid Witch 2017.
There seems to be more across the album than ever before, to the extent that they can sometimes almost get in the way of the tunes. It serves to make the 30 something minutes of this seem a lot longer – not necessarily a good thing.
It’s maybe a bridge too far, as the life seems to drain out of the record towards the end.
There are several cuts from ‘Evil Sound Screamers’ that are definitely good enough to belong in this excellent live band’s set. There’s a cool concept and lots of lyrical nastiness abounding.
It’s just that little bit lacking in, well, properly heavy songs that genuinely assert themselves.
Imagine waiting for Halloween all year, then getting hit with handful of monkey nuts and mandarins throughout the night. You’d look around and say “These are grand, but let’s raise the game here”.
The good news is Acid Witch certainly haven’t lost it. Here’s hoping they can get that mix right time.
3.2 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 10/12/17