Hailing from the USA and coming at you like a horde of speed freak beasts, Bewitcher have been making a name for themselves over the last eight years, joining the likes of Hellripper and Midnight as the vanguard of a blackened speed metal revival. Channelling the old school vibes of Motörhead, Venom and Bütcher, Cursed Be Thy Kingdom is relentlessly fast, one way ride down to hell on a Harley Davidson. Even though the band revel in the glory days of metal, full of bullet belts, leather trousers, biker gloves and chains, there is a modern element of fun with their music. Following on from Under the Witching Cross, Cursed Be Thy Kingdom sees the band continue their full throttle efforts to bring Satan up to speed with the modern world.
To put it in simple terms Cursed Be Thy Kingdom is an all out pure, primal grit, balls to the wall metal. That’s what’s so refreshing about Bewitcher is they go all out on their lyrical themes and old school riffs. The band really put a poetic effort into their lyric writing, they don’t dine out on lazy and cliche rhyme schemes, or throw around random, nonsensical sounding Latin words in the vain hope to summon the Devil from a random page in the grimoire. Alongside the well crafted riff writing, the modern blackened speed stylings of Bewitcher has the potential to rival that of the mighty English giants, Venom. An aspect that you may not expect is how atmospheric some parts of the album are, as the usual stereotype for this kind of metal is all out speed. The band use some interesting dynamics to shift through the gears. The introduction ‘Ashe’ is the metaphorical “calm before the storm” that gently guides the listener into the album, by mixing a subtle acoustic composition with the haunting tones of a lead guitar. Alongside what can be considered traditional thrash passages, the album is a melting pot of old school influence with modern sensibilities.
Imagery is a massive part of this album, the majority of the songs tell vivid stories of witchcraft, dark magick and heresy to name a few. The stand out track in that sense is ‘Valley Of The Ravens’, recounting the haunting tale of someone executed for witchcraft with the backdrop of primal, halftime chugged riffs interwoven with solemn lead melodies. This sets them apart somewhat from their contemporaries as their songs evolve throughout the album, thus the band break the traditional speed metal mould by fusing subtle progressive passages and time signature changes. Cursed Be Thy Kingdom also carries more conceptual maturity, throughly exploring the storytelling has added a significant depth to the band’s music. This is something that was established in Under the Witching Cross, but lacked from their self-titled debut, and has helped them stand out amongst their contemporaries.
Sometimes you just need something to thrash about to, something that is just fast and evil. You’ll get that and more with Cursed Be Thy Kingdom, alluding to it’s influences to trigger some nostalgia but also bringing something refreshing and exciting to the table. The band are growing into their sound and expanding it in all the right ways. Cursed Be Thy Kingdom, will satisfy old and new metalheads alike.