It may surprise some to find that we at Desert Psychlist never really got off on the whole thrash metal thing, we of course appreciated the musicianship of bands like Slayer, Metallica and others but our musical preferences have always leant more towards the sedate and slower end of the metal spectrum, so much so that we would sometimes play a 45rpm single by one of thrash's big three at 33rpm to see what it would sound like slowed down (pretty good in some cases). Today we are reviewing an album by a band who have described their music as "stoner thrash" which, given our above statement, may lead you to expecting somewhat of a hatchet job from us, but you could not be further from the truth. The band in question hail from Tel Aviv Yafo, Israel and go by the name Love Your Witch, consisting of Michael Kozlovzky (guitar); Mor Gal (bass/vocals) and Amit Abrahamy (drums), and first came to our attention via their second album "If You Love Your Witch Kill Her" a collection of gnarly assed tunes that staggered the bands love of a speedy tempo with moments of mid tempo stoner fuzziness and low slow doom. We were so impressed by what the band were bringing to the table we immediately went back to check out their self-titled debut and have been taking a keen interest in their progress ever since. The band return this year with "A Journey Into The Unknown" (Reality Rehab Records) an album that sees Love Your Witch not completely abandoning their thrash roots but tempering them slightly to accommodate a much more open and rounded musical attack that allows those other elements a little more room to shine, we think its their best album yet.
Opening song "Fire Lady" puts a marker down for the rest of the album, its wearily crooned vocal, accompanied by ringing guitar arpeggios low grumbling bass lines and intricate drum patterns, gives the song a mid 70's prog feel in places, a feel totally at odds with what we have come to expect from this band in the past. If you thought the previous song was somewhat of a departure for this Israeli trio then wait until your ears get a load of "Under Water", a song that finds the band throwing everything from psychedelic grunge to doomic prog into the pot then vigorously stirring it all together to create a gumbo of groove that'll leave you searching around to find exactly where you just dropped your jaw. Next is "Breaking Point" an intriguing fusion of stoner rock swagger and dank doomic bluesiness that along with its gritty vocal tones boasts some face melting lead work from Kozlovzky, especially in its more thrash like final moments. For "Barrel In The River" Love Your Witch" switch their baseball caps back to front and get down urban and funky, bassist Gal spitting out his vocals in a rap style meter over some incredible drumming from Abrahamy, drumming that gets even more incredible when the groove moves towards a more doomic dynamic in its last quarter. "Care Free" follows and begins life in gnarly stoner mode but then morphs into a heavy blues chug before then transitioning once more into a full on thrash fest while "Witches Blues" is exactly what it says it is... a blues, and an achingly beautiful one to boot. "Temples Down" is another blues only this one a touch more downbeat and morose, Gal's bass locking in with Abrahamy's drums to create a tense sinister atmosphere made even more sinister by Gal's wearied and emotional vocal and Kozlovzky's shimmering and fractured guitar textures. Closing number "Superman", an instrumental, runs the full gamut of rock and metal, opening its account with a mixture of prog and post-rock textures then spiralling through elements of stoner metal, doom and the blues before finally ending in a full on thrash wig out, breath-taking!
© 2023 Frazer Jones