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'God Curse Us'
(Metal Blade)

Sam Shepherd

sam shepherd

witchsorrow god curse us

Witches eh? What have they got to be miserable about these days? Long gone are the combined threats of being burned at the stake or dunked repeatedly in a nearby river. In fact these days, you'll find witches to be a generally amiable bunch who prefer to dabble in white magic for the good of friends and loved ones. No hiding in houses made of sweets and chicken feet, gnashing of metal teeth or random child abduction for the modern witch – no sir.

Yet, it would appear that there's still some time for a modicum of witch based sadness to occur, which is where Witchsorrow come in. However, as the album title suggests Witchsorrow don't just reserve their outlook for witches, they, like God are far more inclusive, or they would be if everybody liked their music shot through with sludge caked Doom.

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Taking their lead from the Godfathers of Metal, Black Sabbath, Witchsorrow is a band that is easy to love by virtue of keeping things basic and entirely referential to the primal ooze that spawned Ozzy and co. This approach is of course, something of a mixed blessing, because as familiar and strangely cosy as these songs are, there's also nothing particularly new or groundbreaking going on either.

Not that this matters, as when it comes to riffs all you need is something to settle into a groove deep enough to scrape the roof of Hell itself. As a result 'God Curse Us' is a thunderous bone-rattling album crammed with Doom goodness.

Opening track 'Aurora Atra' is a drawn out but entertaining meditation around a simplistic chord pattern. Kicking off as a low slung, down-tuned grind and remaining as a low slung down-tuned grind for almost the entirety of its length, it's a perfect introduction to the band. There's nothing fancy, just relentless riffing that inspires the slowest possible headnodding.

The sudden kick through the gears as the song nears its conclusion is a welcome break from the plodding pace and it's a technique that Witchsorrow are adept at.

The title track is strangely enough, perhaps the most disappointing moment on the album. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but when vocalist/guitarist Necroskull starts a matra of "God Curse Us... Everyone", he sounds like a somewhat vengeful Tiny Tim.

Indeed, perhaps the only downside of Witchsorrow is Necroskull's gravelly, but rather polite vocals. Elsewhere it's all a bit hokey on the lyrical front too with talk of desecrated religious holidays and the usual invocations, but when you're in thrall to the mighty Sabbath, such things are hardly a serious concern.

'Masters Of Nothing' slows things down to a point where time almost stops, it's not quite SunnO))) territory, but the sparseness of the drumming and the slow-mo chord progressions make for an intense experience. The creepy horrorshow doom of 'Ab Antiquo' continues in a similar vein, showcasing the band's willingness to explore more ambient territory.

From there it's back to sluggish, thuggish riffs and the occasional galloping rhythm ('Breaking The Lore' for example sounds like an invigorating mix of Cathedral and Diamond Head).

An album of no surprises then, but plenty of big riffs to keep the stoner witches happy, which is all you can ask for.



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