What's old is new again; it is the way of the world. Whether it be fashion, cars, or even the music we listen to, everything will come back around. That is why the ever growing wave of young metal bands who are exploring classic metal sounds should come as no surprise. But when you come across Son Of A Witch, a five piece band who are merging the sounds of classic era Pantera with Black Sabbath in a nostalgic mashup, you may be surprised to find that they aren't American, or even British. No, these Brazilians are throwing their hat into the ring, trying to prove that, like a fine wine, classic metal styles only gets better over time.
The construction of the opening track, "Far Away From Dreaming (Giant Spheres and Humanoids)" is very much reminiscent of classic Black Sabbath. The influence is there, in every riff and passing distorted note. But more than that, they take that sound and infuse it with more modern stoner metal, as you can hear clearly in the verse sections and the guitar leads. Your speakers will rattle, both from the enjoyably murky production as well as the multiple layers of massive guitars. And while the vocals may be treading water in that dangerous gray area between singing and yelling, they aren't off putting in any way. Instead, they help to carry the immense weight of a seven minute psychedelic guitar epic. Constant changes in tempo and tone keep everything rolling along smoothly, even when the mix can't keep up. You are certainly going to be left with a lot to digest, between the incredibly delivered bass line in the outro and the wailing guitar solos that flank it.
Moving into "Mountain Ceiling," a much more grit infused track, frontman King Lizzard finds his melodic happy medium, give you a little dose of tremolo in his voice to drive home those coarse vocal passages. There is more of a groove here than before, with stomping guitar riffs taking the spotlight. The effects used in both the breakdown and solo sections are just the right touch of nostalgia without being too overbearing. The riffs are tight, with just enough style to separate them from their predecessors. And when you complete a three song EP with a track called "Snake Arms Woman," any mystery about your influences, your style, or your fans will be thrown out the window. The down tempo southern metal stylings of Down can be heard at full force in the opening, including a fairly successful Anselmo vocal style. Sure, it may seem derivative at times, from the Iommi riffs to the melodic bass passages. But hidden in the hero worship of this seven minute monster is a band who have taken a classic sound and made it partly their own.
It is easy to take the three songs on this effort and nail down what Son Of A Witch are all about. Much like Sorrow Eternal favorite From Beyond, they have taken that classic metal sound of their forefathers, and turned into something that isn't necessarily new, but has their signature touches. This isn't a cover band, a tribute band, or anything of the sort. They are a part of the new wave of classic metal; a rebirth of the original tenets of the genre with modern touches and twists. And while that may seem like a cop out to some, to revisit the past, it can be a rebirth of metal without all of the modern bells and whistles that have tainted the new generation. And I'll take Son Of A Witch and the rest of the classic movement over a metalcore album any day of the week.
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