Space Witch - Arcanum

Space Witch - Arcanum

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(CD, HeviSike Records, 2017)

Keeping yourself inside your comfort zone is never a good thing and the same goes to music listening. And metalheads in particular have the tendency to do exactly that, and keep their listening habits right on track and, in most cases, hate to see deviations from what they consider to be normal. I am happy to admit that this bad habit has been out of my system, and from time to time, I like to challenge myself by checking new music which has little to do with my regular listenings. My sole criterion to choose the next uncharted waters to wet my feet in is the cover artwork; if that is appealing / mysterious, then it will enter my to-check list without thinking much. This is how I ended up spinning the new SPACE WITCH LP, titled “Arcanum”, which in the beginning looked like an EP featuring just four tracks...

Ok, the space-y looking cover artwork and the long in-time-duration songs were strong indications that Sludge / Doom / Stoner with a twist of Psychedelia would be most probably the landscape of “Arcanum”. Yeah, the way “Cosmonoid” is slowly lifting the curtain in a long intro-kind of way speaks volumes - even though this is an instrumental track - about the musical ID of these fine Brits. The way the music builds up the heaviness supported by the strong backbone of the bass and drums is a huge red-flag for Sludge but this is done with an effects-twist that makes this absolutely interesting for me. The basslines lead the way and the heavily distorted down-tuned guitar will creep under your skin in a steady pace and soon enough you’ll let go to be carried away by the slow moving groove. Somewhere in the middle, a killer guitar riff takes over the left channel and speeds up the tempo as if whatever was being created in the first half of this track has just taken a solid form. Closer to the end, there is another twist with some keyboard-generated choir-type vocals bringing along an epic layer in this hearty 16-minute track which won’t make you feel bored at all. In fact, you’ll never realize how easy time has gone by and this was a bit shocking for me to realize, since I normally do not do well with long Sludge tunes. The 'shorter' “Astro Genocide” walks on more recognizable Sludge / Doom norms with a trademark hard hitting groove which fits really well the still-going effects. This one is not an instrumental track as it features some shouting-type singing which perfectly fits the added heaviness during the fast part and then, it turns into almost spoken lyrics which in turn lead to another climax. The band experiments a bit during the chaotic first minutes of “Hex Solaris” that soon enough substitute everything with hard-hitting down-tuned heaviness and what sounded to me as CATHEDRAL-inspired singing. Yeah, there is a fine occult layer here that makes this one even more interesting. The pace changes a bit closer to the middle of the song where some Theremin-esque sounds enhance the space-y atmosphere the entire album is sunken in.

The structure of the music in “Arcanum” is thick but not that thick where the untrained to this genre listener may lose focus and interest. The different soundscapes that have strong Sludge / Doom foundations add a lot of flavors which - as you can imagine - will require more than the usual number of spins to taste the whole range. But trust me, the trip is totally worth it and there will be times you’ll be headbanging before tripping away as you follow all these electronic sounds and effects. “Battle Hag” follows this particular pattern and will get you headbanging as soon as the drum-lead part will yield to the faster guitar riffage - just awesome. I know there is too much music out there, but still, you should always keep some space for something that will stir you listening waters up, and I strongly believe “Arcanum” is up for this challenge. Are you?

9/10 


Links:

www.FaceBook.Com/SpaceWitchSludge


Tracklist:

01. Cosmonoid
02. Astro Genocide
03. Hex Solaris
04. Battle Hag


Lineup:

Daz Rowlands - Guitar, FX
Dan Mansfield - Drums
Peter Callaghan - Electronics
Tomas Cairn - Bass