Tuesday 25 October 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Witchthroat Serpent - "Sang-Dragon"

By: Jake Wallace

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 30/04/2016
Label: Hellas Records |
Deadlight Entertainment

This is a dominating record and something which the band can be sure will appeal to all kinds of fans of stoner doom and sludge. Witchthroat Serpent have left a deep scar in the genre and it will take a long time to heal with a record so devastatingly heavy.

“Sang-Dragon” CD//DD track listing:

1). Hydra’s Bewitchment
2). A Caw Cries From my Gut
3). Siberian Mist
4). Lady Sally
5). Into the Black Rock
6). Behind Green Eyes
7). Mystical Devotee

The Review:

As the French stoner rock/doom scene steadily grows, Toulouse's Witchthroat Serpent have released their new album 'Sang-Dragon' and it is nothing short of colossal. Interestingly, 'Sang-Dragon' translates as 'Dragon's Blood' and there is plenty of dragon fire wrapped up in these deliciously devastating riff attacks. Many have made the comparison to Electric Wizard and although it is plain to hear, I think these guys are almost worthy of Electric Wizard sounding like THEM. With 7 tracks clocking in at around 40 mins, it is a thoroughly solid display of gargantuan riff-play.  

 The opening track 'Hydra's Bewitchment' is a mellow introduction to the death & destruction that lies ahead. It consists of just over 2 mins of very ominous wah pedal work that grips you in from the get-go and you just know it will be followed by something very powerful... which it is. Track 2, 'A Caw Rises From My Guts', is absolutely soaked in fuzz and the down-tuned guitar work is immensely satisfying. The vocals are probably the reason many people liken the band to Electric Wizard, they are very similar styles but these guys bring much more finesse to their songs. The main riff is extremely catchy and is guaranteed to get stuck within the depths of doom tunes in your brain for at least the rest of the week. Around the 3:40 mark the tempo slows down even more and the weight of the riffs increase. The last minute of the song includes some subtle lead work which sears through the thick walls of low-end rumble, and bends your mind as the track winds to a close. 

'Siberian Mist' is the third track on the album and begins with a filth-laden bass line which provides a canvas for the bluesy guitar licks that follow. This style of fusing both sounds reminds me a lot of London's Orange Goblin and you can see there is a lot of influence from England's premier league of doom heavyweights. There are also parts of this song that remind me of
Gothenburg’s sonic titans Monolord. As the years go by and the number of bands playing this style of music multiply, it should become a lot harder to reinvent the wheel but Witchthroat Serpent know exactly how to craft such a thing.  

'Lady Sally' begins with a riff that would break the Richter scale. This is probably one of my favourite songs on the album and it's not hard to see why. The huge riffs rumble on like a huge prehistoric beast marching across baron wastelands and the chorus vocals are superbly powerful and catchy. This is most certainly a song that would be mind-blowing to witness live and I will definitely be looking out for these guys touring near me in the near future just to hear this track up close. 

The fifth track on the album 'Into the Black Wood' starts with some more of the wah-doom sound they have going on before exploding into a molten onslaught of heaviness. It is a relentless beast that can't be tamed and then just over halfway through, the tempo blasts up and the sludge takes off into the sky. The sheer number of riffs these guys can produce and deliver is astounding and after a couple listens they become ingrained into your mind. The ending is very powerful as well as they slowly bring the speed down until the headbanging becomes a slow, rhythmic nod as the track closes. 

The penultimate track ‘Behind Green Eyes’ is the longest song on the record clocking in at 8:46. It is a behemoth of more solid doom riffs. There are some great vocal harmonies on this track which really add an extra level of depth to the lyrics and create a strangely eerie vibe. The riffs chug along slowly and powerfully and there are some elements of Saint Vitus present throughout. The track breaks down around the 5 min mark and the deep bass line keeps the slow train rolling down the track. The added lead parts are patient and delivered well as a perfect complement to the bass line and the subtle keys in the backdrop.  

The final track ‘Mystical Devotee’ wraps up the album with a powerful, pummeling display of rhythm and riffs. There is no slowing down from the onslaught of power that has been present throughout the entire album. There is a great change just after the 4 min mark and Witchthroat Serpent give birth to yet another dark passage of doom. The whole record is completely steeped in darkness and the mental imagery that goes with the music is completely on the money.  

The cauldron of sludge is overflowing and every ingredient of the potion has been carefully considered. This is a dominating record and something which the band can be sure will appeal to all kinds of fans of stoner doom and sludge. Witchthroat Serpent have left a deep scar in the genre and it will take a long time to heal with a record so devastatingly heavy.  

“Sang Dragon” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

FFO:  Electric Wizard, Windhand, Sleep, With The Dead