Release Date: March 11, 2017
buzz Factor: 7.9 / 10
Best Songs: “Butterfly” and “Mermaid”
Within the last decade, indie rock bands have shifted from their grunge-y, rough-around-the-edges roots in favor of a more clean, refined approach. Many bands have traded in their leather for sweatpants, given their fuzz pedals away for lack of use, and decided to give their raw sound a more danceable approach. Garage rock heavyweights such as The Black Keys and The Strokes have embraced the disco of the late 70’s to varying degrees of success, but there will always be room for the ugly cousin of this type of glitz and excess: heavy rock music. As bands like The Killers put out hits on the radio, heavy bands such as Wolfmother have had their hits blasted in unlikely environments such as on video game soundtracks and in sports arenas. Wolfmother are a throwback to the days when Zeppelin and Sabbath were badges of honor sewn on to jean jackets by the moms of the kids who would skip gym class to go smoke cigarettes.
However, they are also a product of the stoner metal movement, which I would argue is a highly influential genre in certain realms of today’s rock scene. Pop-friendly bands including Queens of the Stone Age (born out of the dissolution of the legendary stoner metal group Kyuss), Nirvana (“Bleach” is a raw kick in the groin), and even Tame Impala (look up “The Serpentine” on Youtube) have all started out as stoner metal bands. What is the trend here? Stoner metal allows young men and women to partake in all of their RAWK fantasies with all the indulgent solos, face-melting riffs, and raw power without being judged on the basis of pretense.
This brings us to Earth Witch, a local stoner metal band that has just released their excellent debut, “Out of the Shadow.” They stand alongside veterans of the genre such as The Sword and Fu Manchu with relative ease. The songs blast their riffs straight into your skull and shake it up and down so violently that you could power a small village with your headbanging. This album has all the hallmarks of a classic stoner metal album: riffs that feel less like song structures and more like a journey from one end of the continent to the other, bass placed prominently in the mix, and distortion. So. Much. Distortion. The singing sounds like a sermon given atop an active volcano, rallying the congregation to repent their sins, for rapture and the covenant are upon us, and all shall be damned into the fire pits of Hell.
Through the depth of all the darkness, there are still moments of melancholy reflection, as evidenced by the brooding opening of “Butterfly.” This song is a personal highlight for me because it has very specific sections that read like chapters in an epic novel. The troubled backstory fraught with soul-searching soliloquies, the quest for a semblance of truth, a power struggle, and finally the wrath that lies in the wake of the unsatisfied protagonist’s downfall.
Earth Witch give the world a piece of the golden stoner metal ideal. Instead of singing about a troubled love drama over a four-on-the-floor beat, Earth Witch whisks you away into a magical realm of crunchy guitars alongside dragons sleeping within miles of wizards casting spells and vikings battling for vengeance. Through their darkness you can see the light of pure rock glory, and for Earth Witch the future certainly looks bright.