Mortal Fear of Infinity by Witchstone

Release date: March 3, 2017
Label: Sunmask Records

Ah winter, is there a better time to listen to doom metal? The frost covered vistas, the sleeping skeletal trees and the long dark nights. Winter is coming and that suits dooms fine. But, of course, for some of us doom metal is as much a necessity as Vitamin D and a staple akin to hot meals and mulled cider. It is in our blood, a mindset and a badge of honour combined. It is for those who like to get angry, but slowly, over time, like a brooding gargoyle.

Witchstone are a quintet from Alberta, Canada, a place that knows a thing or two about harsh winters, and are clearly a band who know how to do doom properly and at length. Build the tension and set the scene with atmospherics and vintage horror movie samples. Let those fat old riffs plod, let those solos flare and sizzle at leisure, let the drums settle into a lazy swing and let those bass notes linger and resonate. By the time lead singer Sean Edwards has emitted his first filthy gargle on ‘The Voidmouth’, the opening track on Mortal Fear of Infinity, Witchstone have employed so many of dooms magick ingredients that his harsh intervention breaks you out of a bong smoke reverie, you have mentally settled elsewhere on the foggy plains of a morose nod-scene planet.

That ragged, malicious delivery by Edwards does set them apart from the classicists. There is no stoned mellifluousness to his approach and puts Witchstone more in the camp with oddballs and eccentrics; maybe like a less wacky Okkultakrati or a scrubbed up Swamp Witch, than your traditional Sabbath tribute acts.

Edwards sings with a mocking, spiteful air, giving the songs a more threatening attitude, more aggressive than depressive, although its mixed with a pleasing pungent vibe, akin to Uncle Acid’s stylised retro-murk, but with a cleaner production. Everything else, however, from Joleon Tonner’s hammered Hammond sounds that buoy up ‘The Chronoshift’, to the lead guitar crescendo’s by Ian Lemke on ‘Estuaries’, to the scary intro to ‘Maniac of Dane Hill’ are utterly on point, style-wise, and that’s not a criticism as they do it all so well. There is a vividness to the album that is unexpected and quite pleasing.

There are plenty of nice little touches throughout these four long songs (does anyone write two minute doom songs?), and with numerous variations in the pace, that you’ll find you are whisked along, through space and time, forever moving, despite occasional visits to very muddy bogs of torpor and sloth.

Perhaps a bit too odd to find mainstream acceptance, this is definitely an album doom devotees should check out, and although it lacks one absolute killer riff or chorus Witchstone, ironically, have a fine future, despite their apparent ‘Mortal Fear of Infinity’.

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