Album Review: WITCHKISS The Austere Curtains Of Our Eyes
I listen to a lot of doom metal. It’s kind of my job. What’s challenging with doom metal though is many bands take advantage of the relative simplicity of the genre and use it as a crutch to make subpar, boring music. It’s rare you find those bands who came out of the hardcore scene, or who generally came out of a more focused world and can craft music that makes songwriting a priority. This is the case for Witchkiss.
Though they are still a bit rough around the edges, they have impressed me way more than most of their peers in the weird, roly-poly world of the modern doom metal underground. It’s certainly not for everyone but it’s definitely going to fascinate those who are dedicated to the sublime craft. The Austere Curtains Of Our Eyes is a very promising debut from a Hudson Valley trio seemingly on the verge of truly potent musical success.
Though the record kicks off with a powerful and impressive sludgy monster called "A Crippling Wind"—a Conan-esque journey of self-exploration—the band doesn’t really show off just how good they are until the second track, the masterful "Blind Faith." With it, the band's passion for the esoteric shines through. Subrosa-esque vocals fusing with delicate melodies and a thrilling sense of forward motion. The breadth to a track like that hints at a band who have not just a vision for long-term success but the sound with which to do it.
As with many young bands there are certainly moments on this record that could be cut down. There is a tendency in doom to extend the songs to make them "true doom;" that’s an easy trap to fall into. That being said, by and large, Witchkiss avoid a lot of the more self-indulgent downsides to the genre. There is room to grow, but nothing is as painful as what you might normally find on a doom band's debut.
The highlight of this record is the delightful interplay between male and female vocals. The crushing growls of Scott Prater perfectly counterbalance his wife Amber’s more elegant croon. It gives the record a sense of sonic diversity and hints at a lot of future sonic possibilities. One of the key things that a doom band needs to do in 2018 is to balance dark and light, something which Witchkiss do with gusto. In fact, pivoting around these key colors is perhaps the strongest aspect of what Witchkiss do, it’s not only exciting and gently done but it also continually improves upon itself and thrills the listener.
The Austere Curtains Of Our Eyes suggests a band who are going to only keep tweaking and improving their music until they have dominated the genre. In a world where it feels like a new doom band is coming out every week, Witchkiss have found a few unique selling points and are apparently planning on honing in on them for years to come.