When it comes to non-King Diamond b-movie-themed horror metal, one never needs to look much further than Razorback Records. Mr. Nocera and company have made a stellar name for themselves with (ahem) a killer batch of blood-soaked death, thrash and gore-grind. Like the recent outstanding release from Hooded Menace—with whom Acid Witch shares former Phlegethon vocalist Lasse Pyykko—Witchtanic Hellucinations brings the doom in spades. But this time that doom is delivered with a hefty dose of psychedelic drugginess and a cartoonish Halloween theme that’s less slasher-film than “Monster Mash.” The Witch’s riffs are huge crawling slabs of Saint Vitus/Candlemass swagger, with a bit of the slower side of Asphyx’s death. They’re rocking and crawling like Sabbath on (more) Quaaludes and juxtaposed against spacey tremolo guitar leads that make Hellucinations sound like the lost late-60s psyche record recorded by the house band in Hell. The vocals are mostly a low rumbling growl, similar to those of the Menace as one would expect, which brings us to the inevitable comparison between the two.
The biggest differences between Acid Witch and Hooded Menace are those I mentioned above: that ghastly ‘n’ ghoulish children’s-Halloween-party witch-fixation, and those trippy guitar leads. The former offers the creepy-voiced intro, some interstitial goofiness, and the occasional boiling-cauldron sound effect. The latter starts out fine, but ends up coming around just often enough to distract from the riffs below. The more I listen, the more I find both of those distinctions to be both defining factors and slight detriments—in separating Acid Witch from Hooded Menace, they also lessen it a notch. Between the witches and the wah-wah, Acid Witch comes off as what it likely is, a bunch of metalheads getting together, getting bombed out of their skulls, jamming on some deep and dark riffs, and having a silly good time. It’s an endearing silliness, but it lends the record a novelty factor that may deter some listeners. (It does, however, give us song titles like “Broomstick Bitch” and an anti-piracy warning threatening something to the effect of “up to 13 years sucking cold smelly pus-crusted witch’s tits.”) In that silliness, Acid Witch loses something intangible and falls just shy of its more crushing brother. Hooded Menace just feels stouter, meatier, more forlorn and more foreboding, more…well…menacing.
All that said, Witchtanic Hellucinations still rocks like hell. It’s still fun, and it still works as what it is, and I still dig it. It’s just a bit more gleefully gimmicky than Fulfill The Curse. I wholeheartedly recommend this record, and doubly so if you dig Hooded Menace, which you should.
Step right up, lovers of the loathsome… Razorback Records has done it yet again.