Witch, Om, Facedowninshit, Priestess, Rammstein, and Invaders
Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., March 31, 2006
Remember several years ago when metal and hardcore bands all had short hair and neck tattoos? Well, those same bands now have long hair and beards, and the sounds are a little stranger. Featuring J Mascis on drums, Vermont quartet Witch does this switch well. From the flashback-inducing psychedelic cover art of their eponymous debut on Tee Pee Records to titles like "Black Saint," singer/guitarist Kyle Thomas' bluesy wail and banshee howl fit perfectly within their jammy occult rock, heavy on the Sabbath. If you stare at the cover long enough, it turns into a Jimi Hendrix blacklight poster. More of the same comes from Om, which is Chris Hakius and Al Cisneros, formerly of Bay area heshers Sleep. Conference of the Birds (Holy Mountain) keeps Sleep's trancelike crawl over two 15-minute tracks, pairing fuzzed-out bass with chantlike vocals and eventually erupting into a volcanic jam. Despite their moniker, North Carolina trio Facedowninshit's debut Relapse release takes the "international extreme scene" seriously. The slow-cooked Southern weed metal of Nothing Positive, Only Negative caters to cuts like the awesomely titled "Plasma Center Blues" and "Rough Sleep," twisting throaty screams with humid, swamp-rot riffs. Dirty Southern metal at its best (c'mon, their bassist's name is Waylon Riffs). If Montreal's Priestess could decide whether they're Eighties glam or metal, it'd make their debut Hello Master (Indica) more palatable. They've got the Seventies look down, they've got a cowbell, but they riff like they've listened to too many Faster Pussycat albums. Remember Rammstein? They had that song "Du Hast" in the late-Nineties and yet no one would admit buying their album. The German group's latest, Rosenrot (Universal), is more industrial fluff. If you're looking for a sampler of sonic asskickery however, Kemado Records compilation Invaders is a knee to the groin. The disc features an unreleased track from locals the Sword, the big thrash of Big Business and High on Fire, and the spleen-quivering devastation of Torche's "Mentor," which will actually shake family photos off your wall if played loud enough.