Purple Hill Witch

Purple Hill Witch

Written by: EW on 02/07/2014 22:44:10

"Purple Hill Witch" is the self-titled debut record from the oddly named psychedelic trio from Oslo who revel in all things trippy, stoned and doomed. For a record as unassuming as I found this when signing up to review it it packs quite the punch, albeit in the "Hey! That bit sounds like Sleep! And that bit sounds like Count Raven!" kinda way, which frankly, is better than no punch at all. For a country not exactly renowned for it's stoner doom output the seven songs comprising this opus do a fine job of transporting my mind far from their native icy climes to a sweaty desert scene out in the American west: Andreas Schafferer's bass lines full of fat, chewable grit bounce along under Kristian Ingvaldsen's heavily distorted vocals and guitar in the creation of a storming 'How To' for the genre.

I'm not sure which feature to pick out from the mix as my favourite: the slightly wavey sound does a good job of pervading a sense of rehearsal room sweat and urgency and Øyvind Kvam's drums have a beautiful organic tone (notably in the snare) and are well situated in the mix behind guitar/bass, but ultimately it is Ingvaldsen's mildly intemperate vocals which strongly remind me of Count Raven's Christian Linderson. His energetic delivery works well with the largely upbeat momentum - bar the opening to "The Landing" - which has the effect of the record as a whole being deliciously easy-going on the ear. From the same point of view the consistency of tempo holds the record back a touch as PHW could easily drop anchor on occasion without need to fiddle around with tuning or key such is their ready-made nature for this speed, but the authenticity of what they do well is ample compensation for this.

The closing 11-minute title track defines, on a longer scale, the PHW ethos of a rumbling bass inducing involuntary head-nodding and wanton reverberating soloing in a hallucinatory procession of chapters. This track also provides the only emergence of a harmonica in what is otherwise a very straight-ahead, distinctly unprogressive affair. Before this my highlight track "The Landing" emerges into life with a riff of Electric Wizard proportions before finding a direction of Sabbath-ian wah wah pedal abuse, "Astral Booze" (where can I get some?) fires straight ahead and ends up a pleasing five-minute jaunt of dirging hazy doom while "Aldebaranian Voyage (Into the Sun)" finds Ingvaldsen pleading and leading at the mic stand as waves of leaden riffing pour out with barely a second thought to the sanctity of necks across the doom fraternity.

As a standalone record "Purple Hill Witch" is a fine example of the stoner doom style done with verve and passion and although I can hardly recommend it as a breaker of new boundaries I thoroughly recommend it for the simple riffing voyages each of the seven tracks will take you on. What’s even better is that you can listen to the whole thing from the Youtube video below!

Download: The Landing, Aldebaranian Voyage (Into the Sun)
For The Fans Of: Sleep, Count Raven, Church of Misery, Black Pyramid
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.06.2014
The Church Within Records

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