The Swedish band Witchery, despite its rather large and rich history, unfortunately does not have wide popularity and fame. Formed back in 1997 by former members of Satanic Slaughter, the band has released seven full-length albums in the style of black thrash metal until 2022. The composition of the team has been changing periodically throughout this time, but it was a kind of super-group. Suffice it to say that the band at various times included vocalist Erik “Legion” Hagstedt (Marduk), vocalist Carl Magnus Broberg “Emperor Magus Caligula” (Dark Funeral and Hypocrisy), drummer Martin Axenrot (Opeth and Bloodbath) and bass guitarist Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy, King Diamond). But guitarists Patrik Jensen (The Haunted, Brujeria) and Richard Rimfält have remained the core of the band since its foundation. Since 2016, vocalist Angus Norder (Nekrokraft) and drummer Chris Barkensjö (Lik and Mefisto) have joined Witchery, and in 2022 a new bassist Victor Brandt (Entombed, Dimmu Borgir) has appeared.
Witchery’s last album “I Am Legion” was 5 years ago in 2017. And on July 22, the eighth full-length album Nightside was released on the Century Media Records label. The album was recorded at Solna Studio with producer Daniel Bergstrand. The album cover was designed by Andreas Pettersson. By the way, on the cover you can see a lot of hands showing the band’s trademark “goat” – its own heavy metal greeting, derived from the original sign of Ronnie James Dio’s horns called “W”. For the correct execution of W, only the ring finger and thumb touch.
The album features guests, including guitarist Hank Shermann (Mercyful Fate), bass guitarist and vocalist Jeff Walker from Carcass, guitarist Simon Johansson from Wolf (who also owns the studio SolnaStudio, where the album was recorded) and guitarist Maciek Ofstad from Kvelertak. The album features 11 tracks, of which two are interludes.
Nightside is a concept album. Here’s what guitarist Patrik Jensen said:
Concept album Nightside, kicks off a story of unreal nightmares, demonic possession, inquisitional witches’ trials and then dives into the really dark stuff. I started to write this album without any general direction of idea in mind, but somewhere in the middle of the writing process I remembered that I’ve always wanted to do a concept album, so I decided to give it a shot. Little did I know that writing a concept album puts a lot more pressure on each and every song turning out great. All in all, we are very happy with how the album turned out and with again thrilled over Daniel Bergstrand’s killer production. So, get a glass of your favorite beverage, find some shade from the current sun-on-steroids (at least here in northern Europe at the moment!) and enjoy this our first endeavor of creating a concept album of our own.
The presented album contains songs that are quite expected for the band, as well as several surprises.
The album opens with the powerful thrash death metal track Witching Hour, which sets the tone for the rest of the album. She’s fast, tough and mean. I would like to immediately mention the excellent work of vocalist Angus Norder, who adds gloom and horror with his threatening and clear voice.
Next comes the fun rock and roll theme Don’t Burn the Witch, where the first guest appears – guitarist Maciek Ofstad. The result is a fast composition with energetic riffs that sound like something from the 80s, Venom comes to mind first of all, especially since they had a song with the same name on the Black Metal album.
Storm of the Unborn is a slower and more atmospheric track compared to other tracks on the album. It also has more atmospheric sound effects.
Then there is a short but gloomy interlude with choral singing and reading of the story Er steht in Flammen.
The next Popecrusher track showcases impressive thrash metal riffs and has a catchy chorus. One of the most powerful songs on the album.
Left Hand March begins with a drum and bass intro followed by a walking riff, and Hank Shermann from Mercyful Fate adds another guest guitar solo. The composition itself has a slower and more intense rhythm.
This is followed by another short interlude Under the Altar, which is another short instrumental blitz with thrash metal riffs.
Churchburner is another short but powerful thrash death metal song with a great and sinister chorus.
Drums and bass open Crucifix and Candle. The song is in a medium tempo with ominous riffs, but at the same time very melodic. Another guest guitar solo, and a very melodic one, is presented here by Simon Johansson from Wolf.
The penultimate track is a short and fast A Forest of Burning Coffins, with guest vocals by Jeff Walker from Carcass one of the best on the album. Fast, hard, assertive and energetic thrash-speed metal. The voices of Angus and Jeff complement each other perfectly here.
The final title track Nightside, on the contrary, is very slow and gloomy, with a clear doom metal influence with monstrous, in a good sense, vocals. There is also a whisper and female vocals. The unexpected end of the album.
As a conclusion. Witchery recorded a dark thrash metal album, with the interweaving of other metal styles. The band’s songs are mostly short and aggressive, but each has its own character. The album is very diverse, the songs are strong and well written, with a lot of memorable moments, with different rhythms and moods explored throughout the entire sound, although there are no pronounced hits. To reveal all the details, you need to listen to the album several times. The record is recommended for fans of gloomy old-school thrash metal.