Saturday 1 November 2014

Doctor Smoke -The Witching Hour (Album Review)

The Witching Hour cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: November 28th 2014
Label: Totem Cat Records / Urtod Void Records

The Witching Hour – Tracklisting

1.The Willow
2.Blood and Whiskey
3.Evil Man
4.The Toll
5.Faces in the Fog 04:14
6.From Hell
7.The Seeker
8.This Final Hour
9.Permanent Night


From the wasteland known as the Ohio Valley comes Doctor Smoke, a four piece hard rock/heavy metal band featuring members Matt Tluchowski (Vocals,Guitars), Steve Lehocky (Lead Guitar), Cody Cooke (Bass), and Dave Trikones (Drums). The quartet draws it's influence from the classic, guitar driven sounds of early heavy metal while throwing their own modernized spin on the genre.


Matt Tluchowski - Lead vocals/Guitar
Steve Lehocky - Lead Guitar
Cody Cooke - Bass/Vocals
Dave Trikones - Drums#


Occult Rock seems to be riding a crest of a wave over the past few years or so with a ton of great bands that have came out of nowhere and released some stunning albums of late. Personally, I thought the Occult Rock scene would have taken a very big fall by now but if it keeps producing bands such as Doctor Smoke then I hope it continues as long as it can. Doctor Smoke released a well-received demo last year, which has led to their eagerly anticipated debut album - The Witching Hour. Doctor Smoke's sound is a groove laiden mix of Doom, Stoner, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Occult Rock and a hint of Prog-Rock. Though the Doomier and Occult Rock elements are the main attractions here.

If you are a fan of Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats then Doctor Smoke will keep you entertained from start to finish with their dark tales of the macabre and things that go bump in the night. Though there is so much more to Doctor Smoke as they have a different style of sound compared to other Occult/Doom Rock bands. The vocals may take getting used to for some viewers but don't let that put you off, as The Witching Hour is a bewitching and dark delicious treat for you to devour. Opening track - The Willow - wastes no time unleashing heavy guitar riffs with hints dark magic starting to weave their hypnotic spell with creepy tales that will go down a treat this cold winter season. Though it's the fast paced riffs where the band excel at as it shows you how creative they can be with almost Stoner/Hard Rock licks that are forged with a 70s Doom and Gloom intensity. The vocals sound like a collaboration between Uncle Acid and a young Ozzy Osborne in his prime. Matt’s vocals have an almost progressive rock feel to unsettle the nerves with.

Second track - Blood and Whiskey - carries on the creepy tone with gusto but adds a more Blues Hard Rock vibe with Doctor Smoke paying homage to Thin Lizzy at one point. That brought a huge smile to my face as I am a huge Thin Lizzy fan but it's cool to hear their influences on an album such as this. Doctor Smoke is still very much a band in control of their own sound and destiny. Definitely one of the albums standout tracks. The lyrics have a playful dark energy to them especially when moonlights and a certain horned person are mentioned. OK. It maybe slightly generic but trust me when I say this album leaves you in a hypnotic trance waiting for the next song to come on and to entertain or possibly provide a few chills along the way.

Third track - Evil Man - is possibly the best track from the album. An almost 7 minute epic once again drenched in dark riffs and creepy playful lyrics that prove Doctor Smoke are a band with something about them. Evil Man oozes class in every dept. This song is worth for the purchase of the album alone. When Matt starts channelling an evil spirit or the said Evil Man from the song, you can't help but rocking out to this awesome tune. It has a dark tale to it, which encompasses the best elements of Doom Metal and Occult Rock, which you will find hard to beat.

The first 3 songs will give you a good impression on what to expect for the remainder of the album. A dark brooding odyssey that mixes Classic 70s Hard Rock/Doom Metal with the more modern style of Occult Rock and Stoner Metal to thrill you with. Doctor Smoke have created something special here. It has something for everyone to check out. It's packed full of great tunes that you will never get bored with. The song-writing is first rate through out as the band have perfectly captured the essence of a classic doom metal album and give it a more modern makeover. I can see these guys supporting some of the genres big names in the years to come. The Witching Hour is an outstanding debut album on all levels. Don't pass this one by, as you will regret it.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Doctor Smoke for the promo. The Witching Hour will be available to buy on CD/DD from November 28th 2014.

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