Ah… a press release talking about 70’s horror, weed, the occult, beards, and freaks that put music to these themes. An absolutely great, although corny, band name we could easily add to a growing list of “shirts you’ll never wear”, still ranking miles above Stoner Kebab but way below the Cradle of Filth’s of this world.
Fat production, Sabbathian grooves and a whole lot of purple pentagrams on a bandcamp page. And, of course, the first song opens up with a sample of father Lazaro delivering his “liars rot in hell” line from the 1978 cult classic Alucarda! According to dictionary.com, what we are experiencing here can be surmised as the definition of déjà vu- to be precise, the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time.
Yes, there is something amiss here. Despite offering all the necessary ingredients, stirring the cauldron did not yield the possible, maybe even desired results.
Let us start off from the beginning. We know the deal, but we don’t know the band. Bitchcraft, DIY Polish doomsters consisting of four rowdy men and a godmother vokillette, deliver four songs approximately 8 minutes in length stacked to the brim with dark towering riffs, stone heavy drums and half-melancholic acid wails. Incense and animal skulls recommended. No further digression is necessary on the fact that the sound is absolutely top notch. The drums especially have a clear, thudding thickness that really sounds like a battering ram on the castle gate as heard by the scared and besieged lord in the castle keep. Any doubters thinking that the latter description really can’t merit the sound of a drumset being played should be directed to ‘Acid Dream’ to be firmly convinced of the contrary.
This self-titled EP consists of four quite alike songs, of which ‘Acid Dream’ is probably the best example – half because of its intro and riffs and half because of its somewhat more acidic sound compared to the other songs (what’s in a name?). ‘Not The One’ opens up with the aforementioned father Lazaro before kicking into familiar, although evidently great sounding doom territory. And herein lies the catch. Although sound is of gigantic importance to this kind of music, interesting parts, new musical territory and extremity in musical choices really lend it its power. Of the latter three elements, there is not much to be found in this EP. No out-of-control freeform jamming, no unfamiliar dynamic choices, no new sounds, no extreme walls of sound, nor cunning songwriting gems.
The men play hard and Julka is a fine singer. Yet, the riffs and vocal melodies start getting repetitive not because repetitiveness is a sin in this genre but because they don’t surprise. Everything here has been heard before. For the record, this reviewer is of the opinion that while it is logical for female musicians to be singled out in the genre due to their obviously lacking numbers, there is no basis for granting extra distinction to a band for including them. Distinction is something artists earn by quality of output. Exempli gratia: Liz Buckingham, Rosalie Cunningham and Dorthia Cottrell. These ladies are not musical heavyweights just because they’re ladies. But alas, we digress…
There is nothing wrong with this debut EP. It is a pleasure to listen to the fat production, heavy riffs, and the slightly melancholic witchy voice of vokillete Julka. The songs roll on like on any stoner doom album. There is just something missing, and this reviewer has the distinct impression that it’s got nothing to do with the band’s ability to craft music, nor with their enthusiasm (the band’s facebook is always fun to visit!).
This reviewer hopes the next outing will prove more interesting, more out-there, more of an extreme statement of the creators’ creative vision. The Shaman is sure there’s a deeper grave to dig for Bitchcraft.
Scribed by: Jochem Visser