Album: Grimorium Verum
Label: Fighter Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date: 8 August, 2018
If Mercyful Fate and Riot met in a dark alley and tongue-kissed, the resulting metal explosion would create the band Witchfyre. They’re steeped in a deep love of Fate riffing and Diamond singing, but there’s plenty of American-style NWOBHM flowing along in their veins. This is old school to the max, and if you like 80’s Heavy Metal, you’re going to find a lot to love here.
This is their debut album, after having released a 7” and a mini-CD back in 2013 and 2014, and it was actually recorded back in 2016. Fighter Records heard it and knew immediately they had to release it, so here we are, two years later, finally getting a blast down the Heavy Metal highway we all deserve.
The songs are fast and the band is very tight, not really a note or moment out of place. They know what they’re doing and they love what they’re doing and it shows. There’s an enthusiasm here that is highly infectious. This isn’t some tedious nostalgia romp with the same old riffs recycled over and over again; these guys are having fun. Vocalist Emi Metal really goes for it, mixing gravelly vox with those high pipes that made King Diamond so famous. Like most vocalists who go for the Diamond falsetto, it sometimes feels a bit thin, like it lacks some power, but that might be down to the production, which is clean and loose, but also sounds a bit trashy. I happen to like that mix and it works well with the songs on hand.
And what about those songs? Here’s a few that stuck out to me:
Opener “Devil’s Child” comes right out of the gates strong, a cheesy Tales From the Crypt opening monologue followed by some bad ass riffs. Right away you’re in the thick of it, the Fate flying fast and furious, hurtling along with wild abandon. I think opening tracks are often the best gauge of what you’ll be getting from the rest of the record, and if they song is good, it gets you interested and willing to stick around for the whole thing. This one does that in spades.
“The Guardian of the Dead” has just a classic Metal riff at its beginning, the rhythm section chiming in to lay down a sweet, headbanging groove. This was the kind of tune that you’d hear blasting from car stereos back in the day along with Ozzy and Armored Saint. Classy, strong, heavy…just an instant classic.
“Queen of the Night” is damned epic. That riff! Man, this is what Heavy Metal is all about. There’s no bullshit, no pretension, just guitars that chops your head off while making your heart sing. Emi’s vocals really shine here, finding a nice mix of mid-range and high-pitched that blends perfectly with the song. Oh, and it gallops, too. A real headbanger, this one.
Overall, kudos to the band. They’ve made an excellent record in a genre that is filled with tepid clones and uninspiring hooks. Witchfyre has taken what they love and produced a record worthy of the era they so emulate. This is good stuff, especially for those into this kind of sound. You’ll put this on and play it over and over again. I’m interested to see if they go anywhere from here or if this will be it. I hope there’s more. I hope they do something similar to bands like In Solitude, who took this sound and expanded on it with their later releases. We shall see. But until then, we have a real barnstormer to listen to. Dig in and feast.
1. Devil’s Child
2. Lord of the Underworld
3. No Rest for the Witched
4. The Guardian of the Dead
5. Behind the Wall
7. Queen of the Night
Total Playing Time: 42:37