Fast Rites: because sometimes brevity is fundamental.
Any alchemical brew is only as strong as that of its weakest components. When potioncraft is handled lovingly, with each component carefully selected, harvested, and integrated to serve the final product, it makes for a potent potable indeed. Raleigh, North Carolina’s Witchtit* show promise to achieve master alchemy with their debut full length, Intoxicating Lethargy.
The first element in the successful concoction that makes up Witchtit’s sound is key: They know how to write interesting slow music. It may seem an apparent requirement for the band that plays slow ‘n’ low, but it’s one that so many doom bands stacked with premium, top shelf amps and guitar collections that Dad would never even let you touch fall short of. For instance, “Silver Tongue” slips bits of dissonance into the riffs. It’s just enough to hold the attention while making drunken sense of the hazed melodies. The variety in the riffs, from the slow strums to set tone to the chugged eighths over a labored drum beat to build anticipation to the withdrawal and ultimate release, on “Crimson Tide” show an ability in overall song construction to toy with the listener’s emotions.
Another crucial ingredient to Witchtit’s inebriating style is their use of space. Songs like “Traveler” or the album’s title track both craft sound around silence in a way that certainly nods to contemporary doom masters Messa. The secret sauce here is vocalist Reign – her strength in carrying the bluesy emotion across the trudging weight of the tunes to their ultimate climax fluctuates wildly between dreamily crooning and steadfastly belting out heartfelt affirmations such as, “I will write my name ashes, and I will fight to stay alive!” Such crescendos are met with the perfect tempo increase to a driving mid, and on songs like “Intoxicating Lethargy” and album closer “Home Invasion” (also arguably the most blues-influenced number on the album, drawing comparisons to Mobile Of Angels-era Witch Mountain), the dual guitar work of Daniel Brown and Nate Stokes really get a chance to shine with some searing solo crafting that bends, shreds, and wails over the upsurge in energy. The rhythm section becomes crucial on tracks like the previously mentioned “Crimson Tide,” the drums in particular finding creative ways to play with fills and connect the occasional odd shifts in riffage and melody.
The production captures the ever-shifting peaks and valleys of the music while consistently maintaining that hazy static atmosphere of witching doom metal. It’s not quite as deep and crystalline as the aforementioned Messa, but it’s more than serviceable to the needs of the band. It adds a thin layer of soot and carbon across the soundscape, evoking the scent of incense and ashen remains. With Intoxicating Lethargy, the potionmasters of Witchtit demonstrate the alchemical aptitude not only to grow into something truly great in the American doom scene, but to absolutely nail an impressive debut packed with inspiration and conviction.
Release date: March 12, 2021. Label: Self-released.
*Fun fact of the day: According to encyclopedia.com, a witch’s tit was a telltale sign of a witch. Usually an extra growth on the breast, it was thought to be “an extra teat from which an imp or devil, known as a ‘familiar,’ presumably sucked the witch’s blood as a form of nourishment.”