Cursed Be Thy Kingdom

Written by: RUB on 16/09/2021 15:16:40

Bands that come from the depths of the underground, who play exactly the style of music they want to, without regard for what commercial and mainstream profit it offers or what conventional trends and ideas try to force down their throat, I have the utmost and profound respect for. Firmly cemented – with at least one foot in that category — are the Portland, OR-based black/speed metallers of Bewitcher. With those two genres in mind, you might think you’d know exactly what to expect, but you couldn’t be more wrong. With a blend of obviously black and speed metal, but also traditional heavy metal and even elements of gothic metal here and there, the band in question has managed to firmly and surely blow my mind with their rock solid and, dare I say, catchy tunes stemming not only from the depths of the underground, but maybe even from the depths of hell. As the sure party starter that Bewitcher is, their latest record “Cursed Be Thy Kingdom” should sit very well at any metal party, and when the cover even happens to be created by the brilliant Paolo Girardi, it just seems like the perfect combination to me.

What sounds most like an intro to some epic Western film, “Ashe” leads the album and makes one wonder what sort of music the record is actually going to deliver. This is quickly brought to shame, however, as “Death Returns…” immediately kickstarts the party. With its fast-paced and melodic take on the otherwise quite extreme genres mentioned in the intro, Bewitcher sure knows what the concept of thinking outside the box entails. The lyrics are easy to decipher and the rhythms are tongue-in-cheek, sending clear nods towards the hard rock genre but without ever touching upon the mainstream let alone the generic. There’s clearly something about the band that gives their music plenty of edge, and eventually differentiates them vastly from your dime-a-dozen hard rock and heavy metal bands. Because don’t get me wrong — they have plenty of that hard rock sound blended into the harsh, dirty and extreme soundscape.

With two of the three original members still remaining, I’m amused by how their stage names sound compared to the newcomer Aris Wales on the drums. Wielding the bass is Infernal Magus of Nocturnal Alchemy and on the guitar and snarls is Unholy Weaver of Shadows & Incantations… Needless to say, I love everything about it. The attitude of the music resembles both Motörhead, but also the legendary Venom, and even the heavy/speed metallers of Enforcer, as the music packs so much punch and power that you’ll inevitably feel the need to bang your head and tap along with your feet to the fast-paced rhythms. But this doesn’t mean that “Cursed Be Thy Kingdom” brings easy listening, two-beat songs with little to no imagination. No, the riffs are infectious, variated and actually really good, and most importantly, the music packs incredible amounts of energy and attitude.

With “Satanic Magick Attack” being an early contender for the best track on the album, the listener is treated to even more infectious, energetic metal — now with a little dose of Satan added to the mix. Again, I feel the need to highlight the riffs in this track, because much like “Diamonds” by Enforcer completely blew my mind in the guitar department, the same goes for Bewitcher. Of course, it’s the combined effort of the entire band that brings the triumph, but a well-written riff can in my book always elevate an average song into a great one. But here’s the thing: the songs on here themselves aren’t average by any measure. Apart from the tracks already mentioned, you have the switching pace and great song structure in “Electric Phantoms”, the slower track with it’s gothic-sounding lead riff in “Mystifier (White Night City)”, and the brilliant, hard-punching, and testosterone-fueled title track all centered around the middle of the album, at which point I feel as though the album has already earned itself pretty high praise.

Ending with “The Widow’s Blade” and a cover of Pentagram’s “Sign of the Wolf”, the latter in particular is nothing special. Where I find the last couple of tracks to be slightly more anonymous than the rest of the album (not counting the pit-starter “Metal Burner” amongst these), I’d still be hard pressed to label them as bad. Because whenever I put on “Cursed Be Thy Kingdom”, I just instantly get into a better mood, which in my book can never be a bad thing, even if we’re still firmly within the realm of extreme metal. And that’s basically what you get from Bewitcher: perhaps the best balls-to-the-wall, speedy heavy metal with nods towards the Venom-era of the black metal genre, mixed with rock’n’roll in the vein of Motörhead, that you’ll experience this year. It has enough originality to make it interesting and refreshing, but still remains within the boundaries of the various extreme metal genres mentioned in this review. Hopefully, when all this pandemic stuff is over, we will be graced with the presence of Bewitcher in the live setting as well, because I see no reason to why they shouldn’t bring the high energy of “Cursed Be Thy Kingdom” to the stage as well.

Download: Satanic Magick Attack, Electric Phantoms, Mystifier (White Night City), Cursed Be Thy Kingdom, Death Returns…, Metal Burner
For the fans of: Bütcher, Enforcer, Hellripper, Midnight, Motörhead, Venom
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.04.2021
Century Media

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