Acid Witch: Stoned

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Acid Witch: Stoned
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Acid Witch: Stoned
Death Metal, Doom Metal
Hell’s Headbangers
January 18th, 2011
Release length: 40:43
Myspace
Acid Witch is one of those rare bands that manage to create a fantastic cult-like atmosphere reminiscent of the old Horror b-movies of the late 70’s and early 80’s by playing a mixture of both Death and Doom Metal. While not truly an original musical composition, their recordings have never failed to deliver a rich, haunting atmosphere. Stoned marks the band’s second full-length offering, just a little over two years since their debut full-length, as well as their first full-length delivery through Hell’s Headbangers. But, while rich with atmosphere, is Stoned an appropriate follow-up release?

Again, the album doesn’t fail to deliver a rich atmosphere, which is nicely enhanced by the lower, more raw production quality of the recording. It also retains the old Stoner Rock/Metal sounds from earlier, darker acts coupled into it, most notable thanks to the accompanying keyboards that appear throughout the album, such as on “Trick or Treat”. The overall tone of the release really feels like something from an eighties horror film, set on or around Halloween, which the aforementioned track should tell you just by glancing at the time. The heavily distorted guitars really hammer the Doom aspect of the recording home, though they blend in enough subtle Death Metal to the musical mix to keep things from being a standard Doom Metal outfit, though there are times on the recording, such as on “Witchfynder Finder” that the inclusion of Death Metal throws the music off, almost tainting a possible cult-classic sounding release in the vein of early Candlemass, while “Thundering Hooves” showcases a heavy Stoner Metal influence.

Stoned also manages to properly use audio samples and instrumentals to set the atmosphere of the album nicer then many of the actual songs. “Satanic Faith” is a simple introductory track that is a recording with some effects in the background of what sounds like a narrator describing Satanic rituals, as if part of some kind of school program in school to teach the children about the dangers in the darkness, or the beliefs some carry on Halloween. These appear again later on in the release. However, “Whispers in the Dark” take on an early slasher film theme with it’s keyboard-drive opening that is reminiscent of that of the intro to the film Halloween. Behind the keyboards are some wails that appear, then seem to vanish before the keynoard fade to effects that come off more as white noise acting as wind, as the wailing and angered whispering kick in once more to conclude the song, though the climax of the track suddenly becomes rather upbeat for a few moments, and doesn’t seem to quite fit the way the track, as well as the album, happens to be going.

The only thing that can be said about this recording that comes off as a downfall is the gutteral vocal approach utilized. There are many tracks on this release, such as “Witchfynder Finder” and “If Hell Exists” that, when the gutterals kick in, it’s rather disheartening. The music is so strongly proportioned to a Doom and even Stoner Metal influence that the deep vocal approach feels tacked on, as well as completely unneccesary. If anything, these tracks, as well as plenty of others on this release, seem to push for a more Candlemass vocal approach, or at least a rhaspy style if not a more clean, epic-like approach. Of course, there are some tracks where the gutteral approach works for the better, such as “Thundering Hooves”, and “Stoned to the Grave”, though the latter of the two is not really an all that impressive track to begin with. There’s also the odd and out-of-place breakdown that adorns the closing of “If Hell Exists”, which also feels tacked on, and in the end just sounds like the band threw it on there without even thinking, or just had no idea what direction to take the bridge, as it sounds hollow and very amateurish against such well done and polished music.

In the long run, Stoned doesn’t fail with the atmosphere, but the addition of Death Metal gutterals seem to kill the effort a little bit, as it simply doesn’t match the material being played. Other then that, Acid Witch have composed a great album that utilizes the Doom structure nicely, incorporates some great Stoner Metal interests into the mix, and have some fantastic keyboards that really drive the music along and capture a haunting cult feeling that will take you back to the eighties perfectly. While some material on the later section of the disc may grow a little tiresome in a short amount of time,t here’s still plenty of strong tracks that make up a good majority of the effort to keep the listener happy, and coming back for more.

01. Satanic Faith – 2:03
02. Witchfynder Finder – 4:04
03. Trick or Treat – 4:27
04. Thundering Hooves – 3:11
05. Live Forever – 4:00
06. Whispers in the Dark – 2:53
07. If Hell Exists – 5:19
08. Stoned to the Grave – 5:36
09. Metal Movie Marijuana Massacre Meltdown – 3:23
10. Sabbath of the Undead – 5:47
Overall Score: 8/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Hell’s Headbangers.