Tuesday 7 March 2023


It was way back in 2014 when Witchthroat Serpent first came under Desert Psychlist's radar thanks to their Electric Wizard inspired self-titled debut "Witchthroat Serpent", the album had a raw slightly unrefined sound  but promised much for the future. Two years later the band followed up with "Sang-Dragon" a slightly more polished affair but still retaining that raw edginess that was fast becoming the bands signature. This was followed by the two song EP "Striped Dragon" which was followed a year later by the bands third full length album "Swallow the Venom". By now people were starting to sit up and take notice and realise that these guys were more than just Electric Wizard clones, that they were a band with something a little extra in their armoury. One of those to sit up and take notice were Heavy Psych Sounds Records who invited the band to  contribute to their "Doom Sessions" series of splits ("Vol.666" with Dead Witches) which in turn led to Heavy Psych Sounds picking up the option to release the bands new album "Trove of Oddities at the Devil's Driveway", their first as a quartet.

Up until this release Witchthroat Serpent had been a trio consisting of  Fredrik (guitar/vox), Niko (drums) and Ügo (who replaced original bassist Lo Klav after the release of the bands third album). In 2020 Djé joined as second guitarist and the band almost immediately set about recording two brand new tracks for Heavy Psych Sounds Records "Doom Sessions Vol.666" with Dead Witches,. The two tracks Witchthroat Serpent premiered on that split saw Djé's inclusion bringing a denser thicker dynamic into play, a sound not too far removed from the bands original sound but a sound that felt a shade danker and a shade more slower and intense, it is this darker, denser sound that Witchthroat Serpent have chosen to explore further with new album "Trove of Oddities at the Devil's Driveway". If you needed further proof of the slightly darker sound the band bring to the table with their new line-up then you need look no further than first track "Multi-dimensional Marvellous Throne (M-DMT)" a song with a sedate and heavy stoner doom dynamic decorated in monotonic clean vocal tones underscored by low thrumming guitar tones, growling bass and pounding slow percussion. It is hard to believe that things could get more darker, denser and intense but Witchthroat Serpent manage to do just that with next song "Nosferatu's Mastery" and ode to the legendary vampire of legend and cinema, Fredrik asking, in crystal clear tones, "did you hear a voice behind you" over a backdrop of thundering sedately paced doom that in its final third boasts some very impressive off kilter and lysergic laced lead work. Mellotron is not an instrument you hear gracing many albums these days but the staple of so many 70's albums makes an appearance on next track "The Gorgon" a weird but compelling experimental piece with a horror movie soundtrack vibe, the humble electronic keyboard more than holding its own against the movie samples and droning guitar effects it is forced to share space with. "The House That Dripped Blood" is doom in its most pure and basic form, deliciously slow guitar riffs reverberating and thrumming with malignant menace over crypt level low bass and pummelling percussion. Vocals are delivered clean and powerful and tell us of  a house filled with terrors, where evil dwells in every room and "vampires lay down in the wet cellar", the only relief from the doom and gloom being its searing guitar solos' which are scorching and heavily blues tinted. Penultimate track "Yellow Nacre" finds the band upping the pace to something a little closer to mid-tempo, the drums a touch more insistent, the bass a little more fluid and the vocals a tad brighter but with the guitars still very much remaining low, slow and thrumming. Witchthroat Serpent brings things to a close with "Mountain Temple in Bleakness" its bass heavy intro making way for a lysergic laced stoner doom groove that routinely swells and dissipates around a strikingly clean and clear vocal. In its initial stages the song follows much the same path as the majority of the albums preceding tracks, low slung guitar riffs, thundering slow pounding rhythms and morose, mournful vocals but then as the song reaches towards its finale things start to take on a more experimental air with screaming feedback and sinister droning guitar textures vying for space with a variety of movie sound bytes and samples.

For "Trove of Oddities at the Devil's Driveway" Witchthroat Serpent decided to go the analogue route, recording everything to tape without the aid of computers or anything digital, this has resulted in a rawer more atmospheric sound but also a warmth you don't usually associate with stoner doom or similar doom related genres. The album also sees the band moving slightly away from those Electric Wizard influences, that have coloured much of their previous work, and finding their own unique signature sound, still a sum of those influences but not shackled by them.
Check 'em out ...... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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