February 16, 2024

Witchorious certainly have the ability to write cracking riffs, and if this debut is anything to go by then they have the potential to make big waves in the doom/metal world.   

Rarely has a debut album opened with such self-assured class. The first track, Monster, is all meaty mid-paced metal riffs, and powerful clean and guttural vocals, all courtesy of Antoine Auclair. The sound is dense considering this is only a trio (brother and sister Paul and Lucie Gaget play drums and bass respectively). The song lasts less than five minutes but packs one hell of a punch. There’s also a fascinating video to accompany the track which interleaves band shots with a story of three children who exact revenge on a monster who had driven their parents to suicide, thus becoming monsters themselves. Such subtlety in the lyrics is not what you expect from a doom metal band but despite their clunky name, Witchorious are not all doom-cliché and are adept at exploring the darker side of human nature.

 While Monster leans towards pure metal, a good number of tracks fall more into regular doom or stoner/doom areas. The Witch demonstrates their chops in this latter group with the slow arpeggio riff and heavily fuzzed guitars giving a distinct stoner feel. You feel the song might be dragging a bit after a couple of minutes, but it then accelerates nicely with a faster wailing guitar riff. The majority of tracks last around the six- or seven-minute mark. That allows for interesting development such as in the title track or the closing piece, Why. On the other hand, a track like Watch Me Die just bludgeons the listener with a brilliant riff for six minutes and personally I wouldn’t have it any other way! But in some cases, a little more conciseness might have helped. So, for example Blood and Sanctuaire are both good tracks but would have benefited from being trimmed by a minute or two.

Auclair’s vocals are impressively varied as he switches between clean and growling modes, and this is supplemented by Lucie Gaget’s harmonies which add an unusual texture to this type of music. Lucie takes the lead vocal on Eternal Night, which she sings convincingly, and like Auclair, her English diction is perfect. Having two such distinct vocalists is a strength of the group. Auclair pulls off a good guitar solo of a minute or so in Why, which is about the only time he moves away from the heavy riffing mode. An additional solo here or there might have been welcome to add a bit more variety.  

The wall of sound of fuzzed guitars is seemingly relentless, so the sparse sound world of To The Grave comes as something of a surprise. It’s built around gentle guitar and Auclair and Gaget singing in harmony. This creates a ghostly atmosphere, reminding me a little of Sabbath’s Planet Caravan.  Drums enter but there is no climax or catharsis. This song certainly demonstrates that Witchorious are no one trick head-banging pony.  

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of one well-known doom metal band from France (please correct me if I’m wrong!). As such, they have an opportunity to fill a gap and bring some French flair to the genre. Witchorious certainly have the ability to write to write cracking riffs, and if this debut is anything to go by then they have the potential to make big waves in the doom/metal world.