Review: “Cursed Be Thy Kingdom” by Bewitcher
“The goal on this one was to make a classic sounding rock and heavy metal record, but filter it through the Bewitcher lens. It’s more personal and observational in certain spots, but with all the pleasures of flesh, magic, and sin that one could ever expect from Bewitcher. This record is nearly two years in the making…and man, it has been a Hell of a two years. When the first riffs were just starting to come together, the world of BEWITCHER was already in a state of flux. Of course, things only got crazier from there, and it was in that boiling cauldron of high pressure and hardship that Cursed Be Thy Kingdom was born” ~ M. von Bewitcher, vocals and guitars
Recorded at The Captain’s Quarters in Ventura, California by Armand John Anthony (Night Demon) and mixed by Cameron Webb (Motörhead, Megadeth) and adorned by cover art from Paolo Girardi (Power Trip, Firespawn, Inquisition), “Cursed Be Thy Kingdom“ is the third full length record from Portland, Oregon, heavy metal mongrels Bewitcher and their first for Century Media having formed in 2013 as a duo, and releasing their self titled album recorded and mixed by Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust three years later. Their sophomore record “Under The Witching Cross” surfaced from the depths of hell in 2019 as the trio M. von Bewitcher (vocals and guitars), A. Magus (bass guitars and backing vocals) and A. Hunter (drums and percussion) toured hard all across North America and Europe supporting such acts as Visigoth, Savage Master and Holy Grail.
Opening instrumental “Ashe” has a Western themed cinematic style thanks to the combination of bluesy acoustics and a slide guitar and very much sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to Sons of Anarchy with it’s glorious musicianship and as a scene setting piece it is one of the finest you’ll find. If Wednesday 13 met Motorhead down a dark alley then their bastard child would be “Death Returns…“, a cut loaded with Punk Rock energy that tells the tale of the Grim Reaper chasing you down before delivering you to hell; it’s a fun listen before “Satanick Magick Attack” which leans heavily on Venom and WASP influences with familiar NWOTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal) styled riffs but with a more modern production value, both fun and a little cheesy at the same time. Each song takes what the band created with 2019’s “Under the Witching Cross” and builds on those solid foundations with a harder and faster approach, taking no prisoners and showing improved musicianship through playing together on the road. The driving anthem of “Electric Phantoms” continues that trend with a nice bass bleed through under the guitars, the gang chanted style moments giving fist pumping attitude. As a whole it sounds familiar which gives it an instantly listenable quality, it doesn’t push boundaries or test the listener in any regard but then it doesn’t need to because its fun music to raise a beer to, nothing serious.
The main difference between these songs and the predecessors is a certain level of control; there is less reckless abandon here than the band previously demonstrated and that’s something that really stands out on “Mystifier (White Night City)“. The rough edges of the sound have been rounded off and smoothed out, perhaps the influence of the producer and while that perhaps gives them a more commercially acceptable sound, it does take away a little bit of the charm. We’re talking small percentages here, but none the less this is a review and that’s our opinion. The second half of the record brings the album title track which goes down as one of the standouts, largely because the band throw their bullets on the fire and run like hell with a more energetic approach, a powerhouse opening sees the finest percussive performance of the record from Hunter that drives a blackened speed edge of the hellfire Rock ‘n Roll. “Valley of the Ravens” then slows things down with a heavier mid-tempo crunch that has a haunting atmospheric that helps build on the storytelling side of the lyrics before the whiskey soaked rampage of “Metal Burner” which roars off into the night like Ghost Rider. The tapping section into solo on “The Widow’s Blade” is a real jaw dropping moment that needs to be heard to be believed before Pentagram cover “Sign of the Wolf” brings some of that “Skeletons” era Wednesday 13 hammer horror rock and roll Metal style that only misses a cowbell [7/10]
2. Death Returns…
3. Satanick Magick Attack
4. Electric Phantoms
5. Mystifier (White Night City)
6. Cursed Be Thy Kingdom
7. Valley of the Ravens
8. Metal Burner
9. The Widow’s Blade
10. Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram cover)
“Cursed Be Thy Kingdom” by Bewitcher is out 16th April via Century Media