From the lands of rolling hills, beautiful lochs and deep-fried Mars bars comes King Witch, loaded with a double-barrelled doom assault of a debut record named Under The Mountain. The Scottish band wear their influences on their sleeves, with Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and even the likes of Mastodon getting a look in here (the latter especially in track names below). What we have here are nine riff-heavy songs that encompass a relatively broad range of classic metal sounds.
Nowhere is this more present than in Laura Donnelly’s fantastic yet deceptive vocals – you could be forgiven for assuming a man was behind the microphone due to her handling of the low notes. Throughout, Donnelly has channels of Bruce Dickinson about her, although her delivery is actually more powerful, leading the line alongside the excellent, catchy and heavy riffs found in the album’s strongest tracks. “Possession” is one of the songs here where the Mastodon influence can be felt in a big way. It’s heavier and faster than the rest of the record, with drums Brann Dailor would be proud of. This track, along with album opener “Beneath the Waves”, make for the best Under The Mountain has to offer.
This latter track is a barnstormer of a song. It builds itself around a lusciously chunky, heavy central riff, slick chorus and powerful kick-drum, and never lets up. When King Witch click, boy do they click. “Carnal Sacrifice” is another quality piece which pays homage to Hammer Horror, with lyrics that cover topics of sacrifice, hell and the Devil. The track plays out much like an Iron Maiden piece, including a typically Bruce Dickinson-esque maniacal laugh towards the end. This cements that Under The Mountain is wildly entertaining when it wants to be.
As well as fun, there is plenty of emotion throughout the recording – brought to the forefront by Donnelly’s brilliant vocal performance. To this end, “Ancients” deserves a mention. It sounds like something straight out of Pink Floyd. Indeed, it’s so similar that I had to look up whether or not it was a cover. It’s not. This acoustic-led piece speaks of the majesty and beauty of Scotland, at once a breath-taking listen but also filled with a sense of dread that is never amiss in the world of doom. “Ancients” builds just like a Pink Floyd number, too; it starts off rather quiet, clutching at your mind with its simple, yet very effective hook. It slowly builds, bringing in more power as it goes, until it explodes into a face-melting, emotionally-charged guitar solo.
King Witch’s full-length debut is a resounding success. It talks of hell, sacrifice and Scotland, put to a classic metal soundtrack that incorporates some more modern sounds. Come for the tasty riffs, but stay for Laura Donnelly’s superbly powerful vocal delivery. This is a very good album!
Under The Mountain Track Listing:
01. Beneath the Waves
02. Carnal Sacrifice
04. Under the Mountain
05. Approaching the End
09. Black Dog Blues
Run Time: 43:05
Release Date: February 9, 2018
Check out the band’s video for their single “Beneath the Waves” here.