Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Witchrider - Unmountable Stairs (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/10/2014
Label: Fuzzorama Records

‘Unmountable Stairs’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1. OCD
2. One For Five
3. Black (album version)
4. I'm Outta Breath
5. Far From You
6. SP
7. The Cabin
8. The Fog
9. Unmountable Stairs
10. Witch-Hunt
11. Styx

The Band:

Daniel Dorninger
Hans-Peter Leitner
Michael Hirschmugl
Bernhard Weigl


There are not enough bands like Witchrider. ‘Unmountable Stair’s is a beautiful amalgamation of straight laced, good time fuzz n’ roll with darker, doom-tinted flavours haunting each and every one of these songs like the ghost of a restless soul. Instantly accessible and gratifyingly groovy yet understated and uncluttered, it doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t. Rather, this is unabashed fuzz heaven streamlined for success.

Their first full-length record, with a self-titled EP and split EP with Truckfighters – whom they have the honour of supporting on their forthcoming UK tour – already to their name, it is a rock solid effort. It has a really graciously uplifting atmosphere to it, the choruses and crackling fuzz harmonies sound like they could turn grey drizzle-sodden skies blue, and put a smile on even the most miserable bastard’s face.

From ‘Black’s moving chord progressions and addictive licks, to ‘1 for 5’’s ingenious harmonics riff, via the demented ‘The Fog’.  There is plenty of stoner rock musicality and atmospherics to immerse yourself in. But there is an added alternative rock styled edge protruding from the mix. Think of the melodicism of QOTSA and Foo Fighters with added weed, heaviness and darkness and you’ll find yourself traipsing through the kind of murky, mercurial territory that Witchrider have so brilliantly established for themselves.

‘I’m Outta Breath’ gives their shadowy aesthetics a more prominent role, taking on an occult like musical texture before ‘Far From You’, pleasingly redolent ode to the crunching, as-much-fun-as-you-can-have-with-your-pants-on riffology of Fu Manchu. ‘The Cabin’ meanwhile was born to be blared out in a smoky room full of sweaty rockers, all just the wrong side of stoned, to headbang in any form of co-ordinated manner – but having the time of their lives nevertheless.  Come to think of it, the song was probably conceived in an environment remarkably similar. The apple hasn’t fallen from the tree you could say.

Their slot as main support to Truckfighters on their jaunt across our fine island next month is an ideal opportunity to further increase their fan base. A legion of Truckfighters fans, a band with whom this Austrian quartet bear many a resemblance to, await to be hypnotised by their narcotic mysticism. For this is the kind of record that doesn’t merely play out of your speakers or headphones in the hope that someone may listen up and take note. This is the kind of record that wraps its sweet yet sullen self around you; it absorbs you.  

Moreover, it is one of those records impossible to pick a definitive single from. Not because it lacks commercial viability – it has oodles of that – but because every track is equally as persistent and ultimately successful at drilling itself into your head.  Like a devil on your shoulder tempting you to take another filthy gulp.

‘Witch-Hunt’ evokes Lullabies… era QOTSA with its burrowing riff and sassy composure while album-closer ‘Styx’ is a simply irresistible long goodbye. With the fuzz temporarily toned back, its bouncing rhythm and well-scattered intricacies – vocal ‘ooh aahs,’ and bittersweet, crying harmonies – it climaxes like fireworks at the chiming of midnight on a new year: Bright, colourful, breath-taking and commodious, it lights up the skyline with a innate sense of hope and promise for the future. 

Words by: Phil Weller

You can pick up a copy here

For more information:

WITCHRIDER LIVE (as main support to Truckfighters):

Nov 10 – Brudenell LEEDS
Nov 11 – Sound Control MANCHESTER
Nov 12 – King Tuts Wah Wah Hut GLASGOW
Nov 13 – The Basement NOTTINGHAM
Nov 14 – O2 Academy Islington LONDON
Nov 15 Hard Rock Hell – PWLLHELI
Nov 16 – Oobleck BIRMINGHAM

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