Unmountable Stairs

Written by: AP on 30/12/2014 10:14:21

Part of what makes this hobby so worthwhile is the chance to discover music hitherto unknown to me, and to find it outstanding at once. One such revelation manifested itself in November with the release of Witchrider’s debut album “Unmountable Stairs”, a successful and highly addictive ode to the Palm Desert scene delivered from the mountainous landscape of Graz, Austria. It’s an unlikely habitat for a band so passionately devoted to a much different climate, yet upon cueing play the album makes an immediate impact, growing steadily into a haunting piece of music.

Some listeners are likely to be put off by the degree to which Queens of the Stone Age serves as an influence here, vocalist/guitarist Daniel Dorninger’s singing in particular drawing significant parallels to the listless, introspective style of Josh Homme. If you’re willing to live with the idolatry however, “Unmountable Stairs” offers a myriad of stuff to feast your ears with, ranging across grunge, stoner, alternative, and of course desert rock, Witchrider’s uncommon knack for penning a memorable song quickly emerging as their greatest asset. Opening track “OCD”, with its chord based, ballsy drive and terrific chorus plays like a summoning for those fans of Foo Fighters who might have been left a little cold by that band’s latest outing “Sonic Highways”, while the hypnotic repetition of a downcast harmonic riff, perfectly timed solo bits and languid singing in “Black” distill the bluest moments of QOTSA and to some extent also Soundgarden into another stellar track.

The stage is thus set for a varied expedition, and as the album progresses, it brings the delightful realisation that Witchrider is able to hold an unusually high standard throughout - given especially that “Unmountable Stairs” is their first full-length album. Both the brooding “I’m Outta Breath” and the blasting “Far from You” leave a strong impression, the former by virtue of an ashen atmosphere and Dorninger’s melodious, falsetto strung singing in verse and chorus; the latter thrilling by way of another foray into heavily distorted Foo Fighters style alt-rock blasting. Admittedly the record contains a fair share of more anonymous material like “One for Five” or “SP”, but such are easy to bypass through picks like “The Cabin” and the deviously eccentric “Fog”.

True, some trimming could have served “Unmountable Stairs” well; the effort is regrettably front heavy, with only the concluding “Styx” out of the final three tracks producing a truly worthwhile listening experience with its infectiously stomping rhythm and insidious atmosphere. But the issues and oversights are not beyond forgiveness; they’re to be expected as Witchrider attempt to find their footing in their chosen genre. Call me an optimist, but given time, it’s tempting to believe these Austrians honing the strength of their writing skills to perfection and carving out a more personal niche in the process. Until then, “Unmountable Stairs” boasts a convincing assortment of memorabilia for fans of alternative- and desert rock.

Download: OCD, Black, I’m Outta Breath, The Fog, Styx
For the fans of: Foo Fighters, Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age
Listen: Facebook

Release date 03.11.2014
Fuzzorama Records

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