With a sound somewhere between Queens of The Stone Age and a pact between Nirvana and Soundgarden, nodding to the former more often than not, Austrian rockers Witchrider are poised to present their debut album Unmountable Stairs. It is a fiery and rigorously captivating proposition which merges familiarity with raw invention, culminating in a release which does not leave a blaze in its wake but definitely a smouldering and lingering temptation which persistently increases to leave appetite and satisfaction bloated.
Hailing from Graz, Witchrider began in the November of 2012 with initially the name Desert Mountain but soon decided the current name was a better fit for their music, the title taken from “riding the witch”, a another term for sleep paralysis. The band wear their inspirations from the likes of QOTSA and Eagles Of Death Metal openly but employ them in their own scuzzy recipe as evidenced on the new album and the band’s previous self-titled EP of last year. Initially a trio of vocalist Daniel Dorninger, guitarist Hans-Peter Leitner, and drummer Michael Hirschmugl, the band enlisted bassist Bernhard Weigl for their live shows who subsequently became a full-time member and makes up the quartet unleashing the colourful treats upon the Fuzzorama Records released Unmountable Stairs.
OCD starts things off, looming up on ears from a distance with sultry fuzz lit riffs and caustic melodies. A loud breath of Josh Homme and co is unmissable but it only adds to the intrigue and drama which comes with the song. Firm beats and a bass rumble brings shadows whilst the vocals of Dorninger, as the music, are not that far removed from a Homme like delivery and texture. The raw air to the song equally brings an imagination awakening aspect whilst the scorched slightly warped grooves and hooks throughout the opener, just hold ears and passions in their grip. It is a tasty contagion that has hunger for more bordering on lustful, so it is good that the following 1 For 5 is just as raucously compelling and virulently infectious. A bulging bassline matched by resonating beats provide an irresistible skeleton to the fusion of noise and stoner rock, swiftly hints of the likes of Melvins and Kyuss converging on thoughts as the song spreads its flames of sonic enterprise. Bedlamic at times, the track provides another twist and aspect to the sound and invention of the band, the two ridiculously addictive opening songs closely related in structure but individually striking.
The pair of Black and new single I’m Outta Breath keeps things boiling nicely, the first sending sonic shards through ears and across a feisty mesh of again heavily QOTSA influenced rhythms and riffs, before acidic scythes of sound aligned to potent vocal harmonies and melodic exploration express their tantalising narratives. It is a fascinating if less than explosive encounter which still easily grips attention before its successor strides in with an instant creative and addictive devilry. Riffs and hooks need little time to start reeling in the imagination and passions, whilst soaring blazes of guitar light the insatiable temptation of the song. Though it is one of the songs seemingly more intent on being catchy and enslaving its recipients it is also one of the most original and unique in sound, and if any comparison can be raised it is that of Australian band Voyager.
Its infection whets the appetite all over again ready for the scuzzy tempting of Far From You, a proposition cored by a pungent throaty bassline and a Nirvana-esque sonic scowl. With an additional hue of blues causticity, the track hits the spot without sparking additional lust before the melodic climate of SP immerses ears in its enticing graze of sound courted by mellow vocals. It also lacks the something extra which ignites the single but matches it on being something more uniquely different to Witchrider in sound, whilst both tracks parade encounters which still only add to the increasing potency of the album.
The Cabin strolls in next with a dramatic air to its persuasion and wonderfully toxic sound, bass and riffs stalking ears with lustful intent for another helping of addictive pleasure. It is a sinister outing with a portentous breath to even its melodic fire whilst its predatory nature is a giveaway even under the erosive atmosphere of the excellent track. It’s almost theatrical narrative in word and sound is emulated by The Fog, the song also employing a gait which prowls with a devilish glint in its manner but with an even slower and heavier lumber. Additional attention reveals the real difference to the two songs which a casual listen misses, and both tracks create a haunting psychedelic landscape of intrigue and creativity which apart or together sparks imagination and pleasure.
Next the album’s title track strides through a Sabbath-esque terrain with Black Tusk like structures, across which spicy harmonies and wiry grooves lay out their mystery and incendiary temptation. As the album it is a slow burning but undeniable grower which makes the fullest seduction over time unlike Witch-Hunt which steals ardour and acclaim on the first examination of its tenacious enterprise over a sinew boned canvas. Marked by rutting riffs and beats inside a caustic wash of sonic enticing, the track flirts with the same spicery that flavours most songs but turns it into its own, not necessarily unique but definitely riveting trap.
The album is completed by the bluesy Styx, a track which as enjoyable as it is never quite convinces to the same depths as others songs upon Unmountable Stairs. Nevertheless with a presence which to these ears would be like Josh Homme plays the Kinks, it is a fine end to an increasingly impressing and fun release. The album as a whole announces that Witchrider is a band with all the invention and imagination to make a big impact, especially if they can or want to evolve a truly unique sound, the one thing reining in Unmountable Stairs from being a startling debut.
Unmountable Stairs is available from November 14th via Fuzzorama Records @ http://www.fuzzoramastore.com/en/cd-s/witchrider-the-unmountable-stairs.html
November sees Witchrider on tour with Truckfighters, with dates at…
Nov 10 – Brudenell LEEDS; Nov 11 – Sound Control MANCHESTER; Nov 12 – King Tuts Wah Wah Hut GLASGOW; Nov 13 – The Basement NOTTINGHAM; Nov 14 – O2 Academy Islington LONDON; Nov 15 Hard Rock Hell – PWLLHELI; Nov 16 – Oobleck BIRMINGHAM.
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