Swiss heavy (and speed and power) metal torchbearers Burning Witches have spent the last eight years making a name for themselves as an all-woman band keeping the spirit of traditional metal alive. Even more impressive than their songwriting prowess is their ability to do so much of it—their new album, The Dark Tower, is their fifth since 2017.
As Burning Witches prepare to release The Dark Tower this Friday, Decibel spoke to founding drummer Lala Frischknecht about The Dark Tower (and last album The Witch of the North), their focus on live shows and what it’s like to play in an metal band made exclusively of women.
This is your fifth album in six years. Where do you find inspiration to keep cranking out new tunes, especially writing two of the albums in a pandemic?
Romana [Kalkuhl, guitar] writes all the songs since the beginning of the band. She’s a natural born musician and well blessed with her ability and skills in making music. She always has a lot of ideas. Our previous album, The Witch of the North, was made during the peak of the pandemic where everything was closed and there was only a limited amount of people to gather together. But it didn’t affect us much because we had all our time to concentrate on every song. Romana wanted it to be an epic album. Compared to our new album, The Dark Tower, our time was limited since we just came back the first week of October from our tour in South America with the mighty Destruction and recording started in the first week of November.
Everyone is so curious about this album. But I guess this album is something to be proud of despite the lack of time.
The Dark Tower is a very classic heavy/power metal album. What influences are you working with?
Yes, absolutely. I remember when Romana told me that she really wanted this album to be in the veins of classic heavy metal. Judas Priest and Iron Maiden are the most bands that influenced us. We always love to play heavy metal. Our first two albums (Burning Witches and Hexenhammer) are the same, it’s all in the vein of classic heavy metal with a touch of the more modern era. Perhaps it’s about time to bring back the classic Burning Witches sound.
The band is based in different parts of Europe, right? Did the pandemic make writing this album and the one before ur more difficult?
As I mentioned before, the pandemic did not affect us making the album The Witch of the North. In fact, it helped us big time to take everything smooth and easy. Unlike The Dark Tower, we were on tour almost the whole year, too busy and didn’t have time to make new songs. But before that, we already had four songs written, which includes the songs “The Dark Tower,” “Doomed to Die” and “World on Fire.”
We are all living in Switzerland except for Laura [Guldemond, vocals], she lives in Holland. When Romana has material, we are the first ones who will jam the song here in Switzerland and then we usually send the material to Laura. She will send us rough recorded demo vocals and then we will continue to process the song together with Jay [Grob, bass] and Larissa [Ernst, guitar]. The Little Creek Studio is the place where the songs will have a final touch like additional melodies, other beat or groove, backing vocals and so on. We need to be creative and have ideas or other options to make the songs complete.
Guitarist Larissa Ernst joined the band in 2020. How has her presence changed the way the band writes or records?
Romana is making all the riffs and writing the songs except for lyrics. We are so happy that Larissa joined us. Our sound on stage is way heavier and clearer than before. Larissa is a great guitarist and [I] love her rhythms. She has a different style of solos which fits to the sound of Burning Witches.
Now, she is on maternity leave and has been replaced by a shredder queen Miss Courtney Cox of the Iron Maidens. So everyone is looking forward for the next shows and we think that it will be amazing and will sound like a bomb.
You’re a band of all women in the heavy metal scene. Has that affected your experience as a band thus far?
Absolutely not. We always ignore the negative vibes and use it as a key to be strong. We love what we are doing. I think every person regardless of gender has a place in the music scene. As long as you can deliver it well and make justice of what you are doing, every woman can do whatever she wants to make her dreams come true. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the metal scene, or if you work for a company or somewhere else.
We are also grateful to have our metal family like Damir Eskić (Gomorra & Destruction), Schmier (Destruction) and the rest of our family that always stands behind us no matter what. It would be for sure a hard journey without these people. We always work as a team. Love, respect and friendship are the important keys in Burning Witches.
You basically have two albums that released during a time when live shows weren’t happening, and now a new one. Will you keep cranking out studio output or shift the focus to playing live now?
We actually had a chance to promote The Witch of the North during the pandemic. We actually had some gigs and were one of the first bands that toured when the pandemic allowed it again!
We also did a live streaming to help to promote the album. Nice to have social media and internet platforms that helped every band to get connected to their fans and listeners. Our focus is to promote our fifth album, The Dark Tower. We are always ready for live shows. We have many confirmed shows for now and offers keep on coming. We are so happy having this opportunity and always grateful to our fans that support us since the existence of the band. Nice to do something that you love and give that good energy to the people and make them smile. Totally priceless.