Witchthroat Serpent – Swallow the Venom Review

Band: Witchthroat Serpent
Album: Swallow the Venom
Label: Svart Records
Genre: Doom
Country: France
Release Date: November 23rd, 2018

Rumbling out of Toulouse, France, comes the sophomore effort by doomsters Witchthroat Serpent. They burst onto the scene with their first album, Sang-Dragon in 2016, making a mark in a scene crowded with too many fuzzed-out rockers with little substance. It seems that, for a while there, all bands had to do was plug in, play slow, and sing about the Devil and you would get a record deal. There’s been a glut of Doom, although it feels like things are working themselves out over time, the good bands rising up and the copycats floating away. Is Witchthroat Serpent one of the good ones, or are they another of the clones?

The album opens with the tribalistic “Feu Sacre,” with intoning chants and hollow drums. This feels more like voodoo or some ancient native rite rather than the usual, gothic European mysticism. That’s a nice touch, and although the song doesn’t really amount to much more than an intro and an atmospheric scene-setter, it does all of that in spades. It perked my ears up, hoping that I would get more than the run of the mill, usual Doom.

“Lucifer’s Fire” is next and it’s a pretty typical Occult Doom song. It’s fuzzy, it’s heavy, and it plods but with a swaggering groove. I won’t say it’s generic, although it flirts with the edges of being common, but there’s just enough psychedelic touches to make it stand out. It’s a sure rocker.

And from there the album kind of follows suit. You get plenty of typical Doom, but it’s laced with bits and pieces of weird atmosphere and touches of that tribal sound from the opener. These tiny bits really help to set Witchthroat Serpent apart. By the end of the record, I knew who I was listening to and certainly didn’t confuse them with anyone else. Their sound was just unique enough to help them stand out, I think.

The band gives themselves just enough room to move around some, to fritter with psychedelic touches and allow them to ingrain themselves into the actual songs. The whole thing becomes more of a mind-trip, with songs like “Red Eyed Albino” sort of drifting and sashaying along, allowing you to get lost in their morbid feel and drowsy, druggy vibe. But there are plenty of tracks like “Hunt for the Mountebank” that pulls you right back into a rock n’ roll world.

Not every band has to break new ground or do something innovative to deserve a good rating. In fact, the largest percent of bands don’t even come close to doing anything more than just playing the standard genre sound they’ve chosen. It takes a really different kind of artist to push their work to that next level, and while Witchthroat Serpent isn’t that artist, they’re flirting with it. This is a solid album, full of doomy riffs and swaggering occultism but with just enough psychedelia to keep things interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go next.

Rating: 8/10

1. Feu Sacre
2. Lucifer’s Fire
3. Pauper’s Grave
4. The Might of the Unfailing Source
5. Scorpent Serpion
6. Hunt for the Mountebank
7. Red Eyed Albino
8. No More Giant Octopusses

Total Playing Time: 46:29

Click here to visit Witchthroat Serpent’s Bandcamp

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