Review: Margarita Witch Cult ‘Margarita Witch Cult’

In the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ department, here we have the debut release from Birmingham, UK’s Margarita Witch Cult. To be completely honest, when I saw this record appear in the promo pool, and I saw the band’s name, I thought to myself ‘you can’t be serious’. Initially, my mind went to one of those stoner and doom memes, the name generators you see on social media where you can build your own band name by choosing words from a bingo-like column, such as ‘black, witch, dope, acid, mountain, bong, cosmic’ etc.

Margarita Witch Cult 'Margarita Witch Cult'
Margarita Witch Cult ‘Margarita Witch Cult’ Artwork

Also, the cyclops dude on the cover, for whatever reason, had me thinking he’s the one-eyed, mutant sibling of the robot guy from Queen’s News Of The World. However, Margarita Witch Cult’s Self-Titled debut is being released on Heavy Psych Sounds, and being that the label is, at this point, at the very vanguard of global stoner and doom releases, with a stacked roster and a much-deserved reputation for releasing quality material, I figured Margarita Witch Cult must rock, at least somewhat, otherwise, Heavy Psych Sounds wouldn’t release it.

Well, I was right. Margarita Witch Cult do indeed rock, in fact, I’d take it a step further, this record completely crushes. From the jump, it’s absolutely overflowing with fuzzy riffs, swinging grooves, interesting compositions, killer vocal harmonies, epic choruses and an impeccable tone throughout. The power trio blew my preconceived and slightly pretentious notions out the window.

Opener, Diabolical Influence, possesses that garage-doom swing, and vocal harmonies of fellow UK riff-worshipers Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, not to mention the total, catchy-as-fuck, earworm chorus, that I guarantee will be stuck in your head upon hearing it. The first single, Death Lurks At Every Turn, proffers an absolute killer, driving, riff fest with the vocal harmonies of guitarist/vocalist Scott Vincent and bassist Jim Thing deftly accentuating the sonic push. The Witchfinder Comes is a chugging riffer that originally appeared on their Witchfinder cassette release from 2022, re-recorded for this Self-Titled debut, and listening to this, along with the 2022 recording, it’s clear why Heavy Psych Sounds took an interest in this band.

Be My Witch teases some Maiden-esque Run To The Hills drum intro action, before dropping into a glorious, mid-tempo banger complete with another catchy-as-hell chorus, and some killer, yet slightly melodic, note choices from Vincent that serve as a nice compliment to his riffing. Speaking of Maiden-isims, an absolute album highlight is the full-on, NWOBHM-esque stomper Annnihlation featuring excellent vocal harmonies from Vincent and Thing, along with some wicked thrust from drummer George Casual, who locks it down, not just on Annihilation, but throughout the album’s nine tracks.

overflowing with fuzzy riffs, swinging grooves, interesting compositions, killer vocal harmonies, epic choruses and an impeccable tone throughout…

Theme From Cyclops (News Of The World mutant-cyclops dude on the cover?) is an instrumental that serves as a nice segue into the massive riffage, and Uncle Acid-style vocal melodies of Lord Of The Flies. However, lest one thinks Margarita Witch Cult is content to ride the riff to space and back, Lord Of The Flies drops into a swirling, epic breakdown, queued up by Thing’s stellar bass line before Vincent unleashes the shred, and Casual does his best Bill Ward bash-fest to carry the track back to its conclusion on the back of the massive main riff. 

The penultimate track, Aradia, another instrumental that was also on Witchfinder but re-recorded for this debut album, features epic, fuzzy riffs, a killer winding song structure, and a walloping low end. Margarita Witch Cult concludes with Sacrifice, a lumbering, massive, riff monster, that’s complimented by Vincent and Thing’s ever-present vocal harmonies, and an awesome, heavy psych middle breakdown before circling back to the principal riff.

I’ll gladly admit it, I was completely wrong with my initial impression of Margarita Witch Cult and their Self-Titled debut. This record is fucking killer! Everything from Vincent’s riffs and fuzzy tone to his and Thing’s Uncle Acid-ish vocal harmonies, to Casual’s, not-so-casual, bashing, to the excellent song compositions, to say nothing of the wicked NWOBHM barn-burner Annihilation.

Margarita Witch Cult is a total ripper and a complete surprise to this reviewer. It’s always cool when you review an album with little-to-no expectations and find an absolute sonic gem. I’d be shocked if this didn’t wind up somewhere on my year-end list. I’m still not crazy about the name, but the sonics within these grooves more than makeup for apprehension with the band’s chosen moniker. Highly recommended.

Label: Heavy Psych Sounds
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams