Witchfinder, Clément Mostefai (vocals/bass); Stanislas Franczak (guitar); Thomas Dupuy (drums) and Kevyn Raecke (keyboards), have been knocking around the scene since 2016 and in that time have shared stages with the likes of Conan, Corrosion of Conformity and Monolord, slowly building their fanbase and garnering a reputation as a good live band. The band have been no slouches when it comes to recording either with albums "Witchfinder"(2017), "Hazy Rites" (2019) and the EP "Endless Garden" (2022) all receiving warm receptions on their release. Now you might think with all this gigging they've done and with an applauded EP already under their belts this year Witchfinder might want to see 2022 out by putting their feet up and taking a well-deserved rest but no, they give us "Forgotten Mansion" (Mrs Red Sound), an early Christmas present you will not want to re-gift,
Opening track "Approaching" begins with tinkling percussion and ominous drones than erupts into a thunderous dark refrain so dank and malevolent that if you began listening to it in a dark room would soon have you running for a light switch. Strangely this dark pounding maelstrom of reverberating riffage, swirling keys and pummelling percussion is offset by vocals of an altogether different flavour, vocals that are not exactly sweet and airy but are a whole lot more melodic and cleaner than what you might have been expecting, given the bombastic nature of the grooves that surround them. In the live environment Mostefai and Franczak share vocal duties, with Mostefai handling the lead and Franczak pitching in on backing vocals and harmonies, Franczak isn't credited as a vocalist on "Forgotten Mansion" but Desert Psychlist assumes the same is true here, either way the vocals are huge and possess an echoing quality that makes them feel like they were recorded in a cathedral rather than in a studio. "Marijuana" follows with a groove no less ominous and menacing than its predecessor only here the band seem to be channelling a little Ghost type dramatics into their sound, albeit with a touch of blackened metal extremism thrown in for good measure, while "Lucid Forest" is a keyboard drenched low slow and heavy stoner doom workout with gothic undertones. "Ghosts Happen to Fade" is up next, its lyrics might scan like something translated by a Google bot but this does not detract from their execution vocally or the enjoyment its mix of heavy stoner bluster and heady psyched out doom brings Final track "The Old Days" comes over like something Dopelord, Monolord and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats might come up with if left locked in a studio together, heavy plodding and doomic, but flecked with a myriad of subtle shades and colours that serve to break up its relentless thrumming heaviness, the song is a fittingly epic finale to what is an equally epic album of dramatic doom.
© 2022 Frazer Jones
# "Forgotten Mansion" drops 18th November 2022 on Mrs Red Sound