Over the past couple of years the work of Swiss old school metal outfit Burning Witches has certainly caught the attention of both metal fans and metal publications alike. Their first single heaped praise from the elite Metal Hammer. The resulting album then saw lead vocalist Seraina compared to the legendary Rob Halford and the rest was musical history as Nuclear Blast swooped and signed them.
Now the marriage between the world famous label and Burning Witches has bore its first child – the amazing Hexenhammer, an album that shows that old school metal is well and truly back with vengeance. This is an amazing album that is for sure going to shoot this talented band into the next stratosphere.
With Destruction’s Schmier in the producer’s seat Hexenhammer is an album based on Malleus Maleficarum the book from 1486 which basically legalised witch hunting – it’s themes of persecution and oppression are well explored throughout the album.
Like most of the great albums this year Hexenhammer just simply doesn’t have any weak tracks. The eerily welcome that is ‘The Witch Circle’ quickly captivates its listener and draw you in like the purple smoke of a spell and the amazing screaming guitars of Romana and Sonia hit you with force with ‘Executed,’ a track that for many will be the their first introduction to the amazing and bewitching voice of Seraina.
Those vocal stylings are on display again with a bloodcurdling scream at the start of ‘Lords Of War’ that then gives way to a beautifully melodic chorus. From there Burning Witches work their way through a whole range of sounds… all of which just fuel your love for the album even more.
‘Open Your Mind’ sees the band deliver that old school metal sound that first put them on the map and has drawn a legion of fans to them while ‘Don’t Cry My Tears’ shows that Burning Witches can deliver a slowed down ballad without dipping into that cheesiness that occasional happens when a band wanders into this territory. The hard rock sound of ‘Maiden Of Steel’ again will win over the older listeners to the album while ‘Dungeon Of Infamy’ is eerie filler that takes you deep into the bowels of the Burning Witches’s castle.
From there the catchiness of this album really takes over, ‘Dead Ender’ is catchy with a killer riff that is going to thrill guitarists everywhere and the multi-vocal technique works well after the torture sequence in ‘Dungeon Of Infamy.’ Anyone out there who dares to think that Burning Witches is a gimmick just needs to listen to the title track, ‘Hexenhammer,’ to see just how talented this band really is. Here the instrumental side is near perfect while the vocals are once again top notch. The fast-paced ‘Possession’ shakes things up briefly but the catchiness returns with the brilliant cover of ‘Holy Diver’ and the amazing ‘Maneater’ which captures the theme of the album brilliantly well.
Burning Witches are one of the must hear bands in the world at the moment, they have all of Europe talking and after just one listen to Hexenhammer it is certainly not hard to see why.