Album: A Voice and Nothing More
Members: Vocals: Ryan Flint
Guitar: Aaron ‘Batboy’ Hernandez
Percussion: Sleezy B
Keys: Lance Broodington
This is an album I had been waiting for and snatched up the moment it came out. Colorado doom goth punk metal Witchands is a LONG road from my typical musical interest. However since they came on my radar I have found myself rethinking how big my circle is and that is always the best feeling. Lately I am really drawn in by albums that have a chaotic blend of styles and structures that cross boundaries and challenge norms but still ring familiar. “A Voice and Nothing More” really checks all of those boxes. Song to song they really run the gambit of Punk, Doom Metal, Goth, Post Punk. For being a hard style Flint has amazing range to his vocals dancing between Glen Danzig, Musical Theater, Dave Vanian, and Gregorian Chanting. His fluctuation would be enough to give this album that eclectic well rounded feel. The band changes style just as effortlessly though. So each song feels like a total shift. A story being told in music. Aaron Hernandez is bringing a enormous dirgeable of floating steel to his guitar sounds. They hang in the air pushing the weight of a wall behind them. Jodajen’s bass lines are a blistering thump and pounds your bones like a sledgehammer. It gives the songs movement and clarity in that thick pounding texture of the music. Broodington adds on the beauty and flavor with subtle understated keyboard notes that differentiate these songs from metal or punk. Adding a confidence and complexity. Finally lets talk drums, holy shit Sleezy B is an animal these are gargantuan John Bonham blasting toms, slippery fills, and dynamic times changes. I’m a singer, I just don’t get effected by many drummers like this but Sleezy is bringing something special to the sound of this record.
The music and sound is journey enough to make this record worth hearing. The more I listened the more I came back to the poetry of these lyrics. It’s a true epic tale of demons and darkness in a very over the top theatrical style. I found myself reminded of Sabbath/Judas Priest in the imagery and passion of the words themselves not just the voice pushing them. Because this record is so diverse not every song or every part of every song is going to be for each listener. I definitely found myself drawn in and out at different times as the styles veered from my wheelhouse to too far for my sensitive pop loving ears. That became something I came to appreciate after the forth listen. Making myself open up to something new and glorious.
Since I have written this review WitchHands has recorded a new EP which is called L’appel du Vide. A lot of the same driving pageantry but this new offering shows a maturity and refinement to the pounding drive without giving up the intensity.
I kept flip flopping on most notable tracks but here goes nothing:
Night Falls – “How many tears have you got, you never thought you’d die young.” Powerful lyrics with powerful delivery. Aaron uses layers and feedback to create a crushing depth. It’s an anthem song, and a chanters song. This is something old and forgotten brought forth from a grave and given new life.
Derelict – This is one where those drums just cannot be contained within the lines. It has that punk flavor in the lyrics with Danzig and Mike Ness old Social Distortion. Yet the lyrics are anything but punk in the theme. It is macabre and sorrowful but screamed out with such energy. It fills you and kills you and it all happens in the blink of an eye.
Darkness – Oh how this tune flips everything on it’s head. Its subtitle and flowing and has a fairy tale feel. It’s a thick funeral march. Then the change calls back to battlefields of yore. The imagery is contagious and the space between the changes leave you on the edge of your seat. This is a story I want to see told on a stage. The ending hits another level and range.
Overall this album is a complex and theatrical. It is so much more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s easy to get lost in the simple familiar style and miss the true complexity of the time and tone changes. However the more I listen the more I hear. I highly recommend taking the time to really unwrap the sweet fruit on offering here. In the end this is also a scorcher, a record you can bang your hard and stomp your feet to. It just happens to be a well of depth behind the fun.