South Carolina’s Witchpit have been fine-tuning their brand of southern-fried-sludge going back to their formation in 2015, releasing a handful of singles, that led to the band signing with Heavy Psych Sounds, creating some internet buzz leading up to the release of their debut The Weight Of Death. First impression: grimy. The guitar tone Thomas White conjures is pure southern-sludge, dirty, heavy, and slippery, but slightly crunchier & fuzzier than some of his regional contemporaries. White also displays a nice ability to add catchy riffage to said tone. Vocalist Denny Stone careens back & forth from an aggro, tough-guy ,hardcore-type bark, to a total Kirk Windstein bite, sounding uncannily similar to the Crowbar mastermind himself in places.
The Crowbar vibe is on display guitar-wise too, as White definitely dips into some Windstein-style sludge, between his fuzzy, punk-ish riffs on opener OTTR as well as on their first single, the seven-minute-plus The Blackened Fee. A track that features plenty of Whites riffs, as he manages to cram in as many as possible, complete with a nice rolling riff, building it up, bringing it down, and going all over the place. Stone also offers up some Anselmo-style whispers and mumbling in between his Windstein-meets-hardcore shouting. The track is long, like way too long to my ears. It would’ve been way more impactful and memorable had they trimmed it down to four minutes or so. Seven minutes of Stone’svocals, despite the song being pretty killer, was an exercise.
The title track, The Weight Of Death is a punk-y little ripper, and at only three and a half minutes, it leaves a much bigger impression than the aforementioned slog of The Blackened Fee. As well, Stone’s vocals are less grueling in the shorter song format. Meanwhile, Autonomous Deprivation features a multitude of sludgy, fuzzy riffs from White, as well as some well-placed lead accents throughout.
a nice mix of punk, and southern-style sludge backed by a solid thudding rhythm…
Fire & Ice brings the punk vibe back, with a driving riff and some d-beat action from drummer Harold Smith, before dropping into pure, southern-sludge at the midway point, White conjuring his best Jimmy Bower impersonation, both riff-wise, and tonally with some total EyeHateGod-vibes. Mr. Miserum closes out The Weight of Death as Stone announces the song by croaking about whiskey, which I suppose is about as southern stoner and sludge as it gets. More mid-tempo EyeHateGod-style riffery from White, before a decent breakdown on the way out.
The Weight Of Death is a solid debut from Witchpit, displaying some pretty killer riff work, and guitar tone from White, a nice mix of punk, and southern-style sludge backed by a solid thudding rhythm section. However, I found some of these songs to be overly long, especially The Blackened Fee as I had to check multiple times while absorbing the record if I was still on the same song.
Additionally, and maybe I’m just getting old, but the aggro, growly, vocals from Stone, while maybe sound amazing to some, wore thin on me over the course of the album. Unlike Kirk Windstein, who, as stated, he sounds very similar to in places, doesn’t switch the delivery up as much, which, at times, makes his vocal approach an arduous listen to my ears. Minor gripes though in the overall scheme of things as The Weight of Death is a solid addition to the regional southern-sludge canon.
Scribed by: Martin Williams