Released: 2012, Metal On Metal Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Arkham Witch are a doomy traditional heavy metal band featuring two members from cult favorites Lamp Of Thoth hailing from Keighley, West Yorkshire England. The four-piece formed in 2008 and have one previous full length release and a six song demo to their credit.
By the time Arkham Witch's Lovecraftian influenced new album LEGIONS OF THE DEEP showed up in my mailbox I had already heard quite a few good things from a number of reliable sources about this latest buzz band who have already made a decent name for themselves in underground circles. Upon further examination and repeated listens I do see where people can draw comparisons musically to bands like Witchfinder General and Diamond Head.
The production is extremely raw and has a warm sounding analog quality to it. Like spinning vinyl on a turntable hooked up to a vintage hi-fi. The musical comparisons to the aforementioned bands ends with vocalist Simon Iff, whose vocals are very much an acquired taste in my opinion. On first listen his range came across being overly "Muppety" and lacking the kind of forceful delivery the music commands (Though this could also be attributed somewhat to Simon's vocals being buried in the mix). As I gave the disc a few more spins I could draw some vocal comparisons to Anvil and Raven. Cartoonish at times but enjoyable none the less for the most part. The disc kicks off with the slowly building, repetitive riffing of "David Lund" featuring some spooky sounding atmospheric melotronic keyboards come chorus time. This jam is close to nine minutes long providing ample time to down your first couple beers before delving into the hard rocking seventies doom worship of "At The Mountains of Madness" a tune that conjures imagery of tassled leather jackets and fog machines with it's purposely dated retro throwback riffs. This is a pretty cool song and probably would have made a more accessible album opener. I like the everything about the next song "Iron Shadows In The Moon" aside from Simon Iff's lacking range and delivery. He sounds like he's really straining to reach the higher notes and the track suffers a bit as a result, in my opinion.
"Infernal Machine" is weird in that the band briefly step outside of their niche in favor of gang vocals and really basic chord structures that would not feel out of place on an early Biohazard album if it were not for the vocals. "The Cloven Sea" is the most blatant rip-off I have probably ever encountered reviewing CD's as the theme riff is directly lifted from "The Battle of Waterloo" by Running Wild, albeit performed in a lower register. How in the world these guys thought they could pass this riff off as their own is beyond me as I challenge anyone to hear it and not immediately think "Oh cool, a Running Wild cover" only to be confused and somewhat baffled once the verse section hits. "On A Horse Called Vengeance" is a cool song, it has an eerie, graveyard like vibe to the sinister sounding opening riffs and then kicks things up a notch in terms of aggression in favor of faster, meaner sounding Bay Area influenced thrash. A right ass kicker this one is. I dig just about everything about "Kult Of Kutulu" this is a really catchy number, simple in structure, yet effective in it's end result. Sounding a bit like a lost track from "Virgin Killer" era Scorps. The title track on LEGIONS OF THE DEEP is a galloping, anthemic, crashcourse through the literary works of H.P. Lovecraft (As the intriguing cover art depicting a giant, winged Cthulhu rising from the depths, would reflect) "We're From Keighley" has a lot of heart with lyrics like "Eat a bowl of fuck, I came here to party!" reminding us come chorus time "We'll tell you once and we'll tell you sweetly, Fuck You, We're from Keighley" haha love it!
I feel kind of lukewarm on this album as a whole. It definitely has it's moments of greatness and seems to only appreciate in value on repeated listens but failed to instantly grab my attention the way I had hoped it would. Perhaps all of the hype I had read about this band built some damn near impossible standards to live up to. Does it sound like good ol' vintage heavy metal? Yes. Yes it does. Does it have bitching cover art? Totally bitching. Is the production sufficient? Damn straight. All in all, my final conclusion is that LEGIONS OF THE DEEP although good but not great is mostly due to the absence of any "Holy shit! Wow!" moments. Nothing on here really stands out as being over the top to the brink of sheer air guitar invoking awesomeness but at the same time could serve as decent background music to enjoy a pint to with your friends.