Independent of any strict classification, yet beholden to the lineage of conceptual metal, Ohio based Close The Hatch stride confidently in the footsteps of post and doom metal heavyweights such as Neurosis and Isis, yet emote with a conviction that’s distinctly more their own. With six previous studio albums under their proverbial belts since their 2011 conception, CloseThe Hatch have shown a continual evolution in their sound and structure, exploring darker avenues using punishing riffs while seamlessly intertwining atmosphere, melody, and ethereal elements over the course of their musical output.
Modern Witchcraft beautifully expands on this highway, and finds Close The Hatch in 2020, still gaining new ground, yet carrying through with their trademark sound. They encompass on their doom sludge sound, and expand on previous works VI and Death & Resistance, yet take the whole doom concept in a new direction, which is refreshing to hear.
It definitely sounds like it’s going to have a wider appeal, and hopefully will see them rise above the plethora of other doom bands currently doing the rounds. There are elements of Isis, and Oceansize working here, but also Brand New at times, and if you listen closely, especially on track four, Attunement, it vibes like a darker Alice In Chains, with a modern twist.
Modern Witchcraft came somewhat as a surprise to me, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, its heavy, but the vocal is far cooler than what I was expecting, its more chilled, and there’s a welcome absence of growing and shouty, so this release is more stoner in that respect.
Opener Death Of Wolves welcomes us, it’s a chugging slab of noise, and the perfect introduction, setting the mood for the rest of this 32 minute sludge fest…
Opener Death Of Wolves welcomes us, it’s a chugging slab of noise, and the perfect introduction, setting the mood for the rest of this 32 minute sludge fest. Having now listened to this album multiple times, personal highlights for me are tracks three, Modern Witchcraft, and track six, Thorazine Empire, as I feel they really showcase the versatility of Close The Hatch.
Modern Witchcraft is a sludgy affair, but it’s the benchmark of what doom should be, its uncompromising, unapologetic, and overwhelmingly understated. It makes no excuses for what it is, and truly embraces its heritage. Thorazine Empire, on the other hand, has moments of otherworldliness; it comfortably slips in to the shoegaze realm, before just as swiftly returning to its doom roots. Its slow, hypnotic, and impossibly cool.
Tracks like Persona Non Grata in particular, are, at times, disjointed and uneasy, brooding and far darker in content, and this definitely adds another level to the experience. As Exit Anxiety finishes the album, it changes the tone from what we’ve been witnessing up to this point, its epically cool, psychedelic yet disturbing, and again, shows just how versatile Close The Hatch are.
If you’ve never heard of Close The Hatch, then Modern Witchcraft would be a really good starting point to jump in at, it encapsulates a band at what feels like their most fulfilled, and the album is truly a testament to their perseverance and determination.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish