All Them Witches

support Swedish Death Candy
author TK date 15/04/19 venue Hotel Cecil, Copenhagen, DEN

Hotel Cecil has a special place in my heart. Not because it used to be Copenhagen Jazz House, but because an integral part of going to shows for me, is to swing by one of Copenhagen’s finest beer bars before going to whichever venue is hosting a show that particular night. Usually, it is a bit of a letdown, going from excellent beer selection to two or three generic domestic beers. But, as a beer nut, it brings joy to my liver to enter the upstairs bar at Hotel Cecil and savor their fine selection of foreign and domestic beers.

Swedish Death Candy

Today, I am running a little late and make it down the stairs (sans beer) a few minutes past 8 and the supporting act Swedish Death Candy is already playing their first song. They have a beautiful pink drum set with pictures of candy on it and charismatic frontman, but other than that, they didn’t leave much of a mark. It sounds like a cranked-up 60’s garage band with keyboards and weird space sounds (Think Beach Boys’ "Pet sounds" just with sci-fi sound effects). Guitarist and lead singer Louie Perry does his best with some guitar shredding and during their last song, he ends up on his back while playing guitar for a few seconds. On the train ride home, I realized I had almost entirely already forgotten their show. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, just not very interesting or original.


All Them Witches

Having never seen All Them Witches live, I eagerly make my way towards the front of the stage as the room is slowly filling up. I recognize a few people I know and others I have seen before at metal shows, but it seems like it is a very varied crowd. It is obvious that many have seen them before as people are chatting about past shows and when "War Pigs" by "Black Sabbath" blasts through the P.A. system, many are aware that this classic song indicates that All Them Witches will take the stage shortly.

As the three members enter, I am mesmerized by drummer Robby Staebler, an enormously tall guy, who would dwarf even an 80’s Def Leppard drum kit. Without much in the way of an introduction, he delves into "Funeral For A Great Bird". He snarls, bangs the drums hard and sets the tone for the rest of the show.

All Them Witches is a hard band to describe as they cover many genres and much as already been said about that, so I won’t go into that here. "Funeral For A Great Bird" comes across as a sludge song that just keeps going and going. It is a mesmerizing track that draws you into the dark and heavy universe that is All Them Witches.

The next song up, "3-5-7", isn’t nearly as heavy, but just as enticing and seldom have I been this drawn in by a band by their second song. All Them Witches used to have a fourth member, who would play organs and multiple other instruments, which contributed to a very layered wall of sound, at least on albums. Now they are a trio with just bass (lead singer, Charles Parks also wields the bass guitar), guitar and drums.

Live on stage in this constellation, they still manage to make a lot of noise when the material requires it and yet, be very quiet at times. The band effortlessly switches back and forth between hard rock up-tempo songs that seem to last forever and slower, almost jazz-like, compositions characterized by their psych-blues sound. "Harvest Feast" is a slow blues song that Parks introduces with "This is a motherfucking blues song. So, if you are feeling blue, find yourself a buddy and hang on, okay?" After one of their more popular songs, "When God Comes Back" they are taking it down quite a few notches with this 10-minute long blues song, but the crowd obviously digs it, as evidenced by a sea of slowly bobbing heads all around the venue. After "Harvest Feast" we are treated to "Workhorse" ("This is a song about having a job. Let’s….let’s fucking go"), yet another dusty, long blues song.

After the awesome "Charles William" we get the exquisitely named "Fishbelly 86 Onion" which on the album is saturated with organs. I was curious to see how this would work live without the ever-present organ keeping the groove going. I didn’t miss it for a second. Parks and Co. put so much effort into presenting this track with savage drumming, roaring guitars, heavy bass and intense vocal. For a band known for appearing introverted, doing very little audience participation and limited internal banter, All Them Witches tonight seemed very different from the Youtube clips I have previously seen. Parks was almost chatty at times and the band members were smiling and seemingly having fun on stage.

If one criterion for success is playing loud, they most certainly get full marks for that. As I am writing this I am realizing I am getting closer and closer to handing out the coveted 10/10 grade. They were just that good on stage and present strong material from start to finish.

All Them Witches are a brave band. They obviously do not care at all about being radio friendly or getting hits on Spotify. They write long, complex songs, they don’t adhere to any one genre or style and for the most part have, over the years, recorded and produced their own material.

They finish off strong with "Alabaster", "Rob’s Dream", "Swallowed" and the encore is just one track, but it is a long one. "Blood And Sand/Milk And Endless Water" as the encore, leaves you exhausted but wanting more.

Standing outside with the smokers after the show and listening to their praising of the show and the band and talking to a few fans, I convince myself this is one of the best shows I have seen in years but not completely deserving of a 10/10 rating, even though it is hard to imagine a band putting on a better show than All Them Witches did tonight.

Photos by: Stefan Thor Straten

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