Witchcaster may only be two people, but their demo could fill a whole town with dread. Especially a 17th century town in colonial Virginia. Together guitarist/vocalist High Priest J.L. and drummer/bassist/backing vocalist Dr Zemiecki execute filthy, punishing and instantly killer old school doom magick. Theirs is an almighty and darkly cast sermon passed down from the first dark source on through many capable hands until finally falling into Witchcaster’s powerful claws. This demo will haunt you ‘til your days end. Three tracks, but listen once and you’re under Witchcaster’s spell, forever doomed to repeat.
Despite knowing each other for over ten years, J.L. says, “[Witchcaster] is, surprisingly, the first musical endeavor we have taken on as a duo.” He continues to explain: “Dr Zemiecki moved and left the area for a few years, but shortly after they returned I had told them I had an idea for a doom project and asked if they’d like to collaborate and play bass and drums—luckily they agreed, and here we are now.”
Witchcaster bring a rush of new blood into doom’s otherwise tired old husk, and yet, J.L. says that this is his first doom outing. “But it’s something I had wanted to put together for a while and just never seemed to have the right pieces around,” J.L. says. “So I’ve had a lot of time to think about what kind of sound and atmosphere I wanted to convey. The goal is for the listener to be ensnared by an onslaught of fuzz; for each track to infect their mind, body, and spirit.”
Checks across the board on that one for these Virginian crawlers.
“We had started our initial jamming and writing sessions in late 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic officially hit US shores,” J.L. recalls how Witchcaster first and finally came togethr. “After it arrived it only gave us more desire to push through and finish the demo and I feel like the music really resonates with it. When it seems like your entire world is going to shit, at least in the US, doom is the perfect canvas to create a foreboding sonic landscape.”
J.L continues to describe the writing process as hybrid of jamming and collaborating long-distance. “All of the guitar parts we recorded together, with the last guitar parts (for “Death Rider”) being recorded just one week prior to our area going into a Phase 0 of lockdown. Once lockdown was implemented we arranged and fine-tuned the tracks while collaborating online. Dr Zemiecki did all of their bass and drum parts where they live, and I recorded my vocals in my bathroom at home.”
Hail shower doom!
J.L. says ultimately writing the demo “was a long process.” He continues: “We had a few weeks of jamming filled with countless riffs that were left on the cutting room floor for not feeling right, before finally locking in ‘Temptress of Mankind’. That song, along with ‘Death Rider’ I feel really encompass what Witchcaster is about. It’s bullet belt-infused doom, slow to mid-tempo soaked in fuzz.”
Demo:listen tells them, “This sounds like Witchfinder General jamming with Martin Ain, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler.”
J.L agrees: “It sounds fucking fantastic all things considered. The fuzz is enthralling, I’m in love with the bass tone. [Yes.] The vocals leave something to be desire—I had originally intended to channel more of my inner ‘King Diamond,’ but I’m my own biggest critic.[Yes you are, J.L. The vocals howl dogmatic doom justice!] I feel we’ve got a really solid base to build our sound around over time with what is showcased on Demo I.”
Hey, that’s our line!
J.L. breakdowns the themes behind the demo’s three different tracks. “The original concept I had going into writing lyrics was mixing sci-fi themes with witchcraft—I had originally intended each song to be about some sort of celestial titan hurling through the cosmos wreaking havoc and destruction on the worlds they were summoned to. There’s still kind of a hint of that in ‘Celestial Incantations’ and more so in ‘Death Rider.’ For ‘Death Rider’ my main source of inspiration was Judas Priest tracks like ‘The Hellion/ Electric Eye’ or ‘Painkiller’ where the song tells the story of some sort of supernatural or mechanical being who now interacts with the mortal plane. ‘Temptress of Mankind’ is supposed to transport the listener back to the era of witch-panic, where a township wishes to eradicate the coven who live among them.”
Traditional doom done with extra fuzz and filth. Who’s going to step it up and put it out on physical?
“No concrete plans for a physical release of Demo I at this point in time, but never say never,” says J.L.
Meanwhile the band says, “Witchcaster is currently in the early process of working on Demo II, still from a socially distanced standpoint at the moment. Riffs for the next spell are being conjured.”
Doom this solid hardly comes around at all anymore. Doom this filthy, never. Don’t miss Witchcaster or the evil eye may find ya.