Witchbanger (Heavy Psych Sounds)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., July 14, 2017
The path of stoner metal has been trod by so many bands that it's now as smooth as a baby's butt. Meaning, it's no easy task to make chugging hard rock with a tripped-out vibe sound fresh again, but Austin's Duel put a new coat of paint on a crumbling house with Witchbanger. Since last year's debut Fears of the Dead, the quartet's evolution has infused a punkish aggression with the epic sweep of the NWOBHM, motoring tracks such as "Devil" from the tar pit to the open road. Frontman Tom Frank's cracked cement vox conveys songs like "Tigers and Rainbows" and "Astro Gypsy" with the right balance of humor and absolute conviction, yet Witchbanger is mainly about love; Duel clearly relishes its mission and that dedication suffuses every gruff lyric and grungy power chord. The happiness with which they blast out the devil-horned riffs of "Cat's Eye" and the lighter-waving heartland metal of "Heart of the Sun" hits all the right genre notes with a flourish and a wild-eyed grin. Witchbanger is as much rocking fun as its title.