Album Review: King Witch – “Under the Mountain”

A warlock by any other name

OK, Mudrian, beer is great and all, but can we get a goddamn “Witch Fest” at some point in the future? You know, gather all the metal bands with “witch” in their names, serve booze out of bubbling cauldrons and end the night with a raucous dance around a precarious bonfire? Obviously, Angel Witch headlines, but we’re also gonna need these King Witch newcomers in the mix (I’d lean toward ixnaying Stevie Nicks, but hey, it’s your hypothetical festival).

I’m making this booking recommendation based on the Scottish quartet’s debut LP, Under the Mountain—a highly enjoyable slab of doom-tinged trad metal that bows to the altars of sizzling riffs and Conan the Barbarian aesthetics. Opener “Beneath the Waves” will do nicely if you’re looking for a five-minute synopsis of the band’s DNA, but this album really gets going with “Carnal Sacrifice,” a high-octane riff extravaganza that sounds like Christian Mistress snorting a massive rail of coke off the tailpipe of a souped-up CB750. Prepare thine air guitars.

Indeed, Jamie Gilchrist’s diverse axe work is the undeniable highlight throughout Under the Mountain’s 44-minute runtime, but he’s framed by excellent performances from bassist Simon Anger, drummer Lyle Brown and powerhouse singer Laura Donnelly, whose commanding voice makes the perfect narrator for these nine odes to blood sacrifices, demonic possessions and mountain adventures. A couple of the slower numbers have a tendency to swerve into Déjà Vu Ville (Candlemass share mayoral duties), but that’s a small price to pay for this broomstick ride.

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