STORMWITCH - Bound To The Witch
May 23, 2018, a month ago
Eleventh release by German outfit whose debut came out in '84! The line-up has turned over many times since, with Andy Mück (vocals) the lone original member. In fact, only Jürgen "Wanschi" Wannenwetsch (bass) and Volle Schmietow (guitar), both of whom joined Stormwitch back in '15, remain from the poorly received Season Of The Witch, a keyboard enhanced platter (or maybe another word with consecutive Ts? **itter) devoid of guitar crunch. This is more like it!
Eleven proper tracks, is probably a bit too much. A little paring would make it an even stronger effort and the digi tacks on an additional trio. While the band has never been the balls-out metal of their better known countrymen, the best material has embraced strong vocals melodies and metallic sensibilities. See their The Beauty And The Beast CD. While the old-timers avoid breaking the speed limit, they cruise along the Autobahn, with rollicking mid-tempo anthems. "Odin's Ravens" combines guitarwork, high pitched voice and infectious melodies in a winning formula. Ditto the gang vocal chorus of "Choir Of The Dead" follow-up. The mid-paced Teutonic crunch of their signature track (amazing there's never been a song entitled "Stormwitch" before now!) and cheery chorus "Ancient Times" possess a grit missing from recent output. That said, the sing-along quality on "Life Is Not A Dream" are the calling card.
Even if it's atypical of the rest of the album, enjoy the easy on the ears "Ghost Of Mansfield Park". Acoustic ballad "Nightingale" closes the regular format. Of the extras, after a rough start "Stronger Than Heaven" settles into a middle of the road sing-along, built around the titular phrase. "Rats In The Attic" sees Mück adopt a heretofore idle higher register, as the simple construct is easily the pick of the litter, with aggressive twin leads. The third bonus cut, a guitar chugging "Priest Of Evil" also (temporarily) ventures into the vocal stratosphere. Shame the last two strong numbers weren't part of the "real" record, at least for some increased diversity, or perhaps as a replacement for the rather blasé opener. After all this time, doubt they're going away, so at least Stormwitch are back on solid ground.