Bongzilla – Weedsconsin
Reviewed: May 2021
Released: 2021, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
In 1983, Motorhead, Venom, and Mercyful Fate had a heavy metal threeway whilst Angel Witch’s self titled LP provided the most romantic of soundtracks. Some say that it happened either in a greenroom at Hammersmith Odeon, others will attest that it was the walk in cooler at the Rainbow Bar and Grill – nobody really knows for sure. But as legend has it, the denim and leather clad hellspawn embryo of that tryst was cryogenically preserved by the omnipotent godz of metal for 30 years, waiting until the world was ready to hear the heavy metal thunder of the band known as Bewitcher.
Okay, that might have all been part of a COVID induced fever dream or possibly the result of one too many pints on a Tuesday night, but it’s definitely the vibe that comes across on Bewitcher’s latest full length, CURSED BY THY KINGDOM. A musical mosaic of first gen NWOBHM, 80’s speed metal and Satanified black n’ roll, CURSED BE THY KINGDOM hits the nostalgia feels with a hammer of fresh inspiration.
Featuring 36 minutes of thrashing and galloping romps, CURSED BE THY KINGDOM offers no shortage of creative hooks and slick melodies that hold up strong after repeated listens. Opening with the instrumental “Ashe”, we’re treated to an almost western/classical acoustic lull that slowly builds into the galloping “Death Returns…” The riffs are fast and crisp, the urgency is immediate, and you are absolutely compelled to bang thy head. “Satanic Magick Attack” is verrry Venom-esque in presentation, but the trio at least delivers a quality homage. “Valley of the Ravens” is one of the few mid-tempo jaunts across the album, but the combination of clean tones and punctuated rhythms hit especially hard. That, and the tune is packed full of memorable lyrics that I haven’t been able to shake outta my head for days. I’m sure I must look like an absolute madman when I’m out for my evening run, ear buds at full volume shouting along with “LOVELY DAY FOR AN EXECUTIOOONNNN!” and “LIGHT THE PYRE, START THE FIRE, FOR THE WITCH MUST BURN!” Closing the album is a furious cover of Pentagram’s classic anthem “Sign of the Wolf”, which works incredibly well in both vibe and execution alongside the album’s original material.
It’s barely been 2 years since Bewitcher’s last album, UNDER THE WITCHING CROSS, but the songwriting and just plain consistency in quality of the tunes on CURSED BE THY KINGDOM is worlds apart. Quickly becoming one of my favorite releases of the year so far, CURSED BE THY KINGDOM offers plenty of appeal to metal enthusiasts of all tastes and flavors. Fast, heavy, packed to the gut with memorable riffs and just a little bit spooky, what else could you ask for?