A lot of doom bands like to chortle about only having enough time to play two or three songs in a set when they play a gig. Based on Space Witch‘s debut album, the Stoke-on-Trent band would be lucky to be allowed to finish one. But being that it takes sunlight eight minutes and twenty seconds to reach the Earth, and the speed of sound is much slower than the speed of light, it stands to reason that Space Witch songs (which are broadcast from the farthest depths of the Universe, we’re led to believe) are lengthy propositions, having travelled countless light years, and the vacuum of space, to reach our fortunate ears.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing getting to this point, however – Space Witch have had a fairly tumultuous journey so far. Formed in 2007 by guitarist Daz Rowlands, Space Witch have released a handful of demos and EPs, featuring a revolving cast of musicians before an era of solidification began around 2012. A new line-up got together to write and record the fantastic thee-track The Alchemy Paradox EP in their rehearsal room, and it was subsequently released on Cosmic Tomb Records. Following this, Space Witch released a split single with Grimsby’s Trollkraftt (aptly titled Wytchkraftt), before finally setting their sights on recording their long-overdue, eponymous debut album.
The album consists of two half hour-long tracks; a complete re-recording of The Alchemy Paradox -this time condensed into one seamless song – and Worship The Void, a vastly expanded version of the track Worship from the Trollkraftt split. In this sense, the album feels like the band exorcising demons and drawing a line under their past by presenting definitive, well-recorded renditions of these epics so that they can move on and write new songs with the new line-up which has been expanded from the three-piece who recorded The Alchemy Paradox to include a second guitarist and a dude making noise with electronics.
Having been blown away by a live rendition of Worship The Void recently, it was a pleasant surprise to hear the song so faithfully translated on record, capturing both the lurching doom, the moments of quiet contemplation, and the sudden bursts of energy that unite the sections so cohesively across the thirty minutes. Likewise, having enthused about The Alchemy Paradox, it’s good to hear the song-suite filled-out with additional guitar and sweeping, Theremin-like electronics to add a layer of B-movie cinematics to proceedings. Having previously considered the three songs that made up the song as fairly distinct from one another, it’s impressive the way the band have melded them together so flawlessly. Simply put, this album sounds like the soundtrack to Space Witch devouring a planet.
When progressive doom bands write songs this long it can be a tricky balancing act to ensure that a song is actually progressing rather indulging in the same riffs for too long and effectively running out the clock. Space Witch are one of the rare breeds that have a good handle on the best way to make the sections in their songs ebb and flow, knowing when to change up a riff and when to just hammer it home. Who knows which strange celestial body Space Witch will prey upon next, but you can be damn sure that we’ll get an awesome soundtrack out of it.
Scribed by: Tom McKibbin