By: Owen Coggins
Swamp Witch | facebook | bandcamp |
Released on July 15, 2016 via Tribunal of the Axe
Swamp Witch return after their brilliant short debut Gnosis, with full length album The Slithering Bog. Before a note is heard, you know what to expect from the name of the band, the album title, and the great misty, murky grey cover image, a mysterious lurking figure trudging half-submerged through the grey marshes. Yep: swampy, witchy, stinking psychotropic sludge promised and delivered.
I really like the lead guitar at the end of opener ‘Strange Cults’: the riffs keep coming, and while avoiding straight ahead hard rock soloing there’s some great leaning, slanted bends and wails. The percussion is great at the start of ‘Marsh of Delusion’, simultaneously full of syncopated rhythmic energy, but sort of thick and gloopy at the same time, providing a solid basis for the grimy amplifier smears over the top. Then ‘Slither into the Circle’ has a great weird buzzing, wobbling riff to begin it, and another classic riff to back it up when the vocals come in. And once again, there’s well-judged lead guitar stuff going on which keeps things exciting.
Then ‘Bayou Tomb’ (honestly, these track titles are perfect!) takes down the tempo further, as if a particularly think, oozing area of swamp has been reached. Hoarse and horrible vocals burst like slow bubbles of methane emerging slowly from the depths, and the doom creature struggles on through the mire. In the middle of the track the already slumped, bedraggled rhythm is choked with weeds and dragged under the slime, before surfacing to thrash about soporifically towards the next song. Another weighed-down groove encrusted with weedy tendrils appears with relentless power for ‘Dead Root’, this time interrupted with a nice mournful section which is joined rather than broken up by the returning heaviness.
The album closer ‘Lost Symbols’ has a certain finality to it, almost a sort of aura of fatalism, as if the haunting/haunted sonic beast we’re hearing has accepted its fate, resigned to wandering the marshlands forever. The very end of the record is sort of halfway between a dead stop and a fade out: a footprint slowly filling in with slime and mire, and then it’s gone.