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Devil's Witches : Velvet Magic

This debut from Devil's Witches is a smooth and mystical Stoner Doom event, packed with both style and substance.

Despite the dual-sounding name, Scotland's Devil's Witches are a one man project. Which, frankly, makes the results on 'Velvet Magic' all the more impressive: James Abeline appearing to be to Underground Stoner Rock what Pierre Laube is to the equivalent Death/Doom scene. Debuting on Bandcamp back in March, the resultant fall out has been rather good. All three hundred vinyl pressings[*] gone in under a month and now with a few copies, for better or worse, going for exorbitant prices on Discogs. Ponder it though, more as a measure of the esteem the album is held in, rather than a number of unscrupulous buggers trying to make a fast buck (even though it is actually both). Cult classic in the making?

For a few bars of the opening riff, you'd be forgiven for thinking that here lies yet another Windhand or Electric Wizard clone as 'Velvet Magic' gets under way...BUT, give it a minute or so. One minute and five seconds to be precise, when Devil's Witches own seductive brand of psychedelic, fuzz laden, '60s worshipping rock (with a capital R) issues gloriously forth from the speakers... It's quite a moment, a statement even, and it is more than backed up by the rest of the album.

'Velvet Magic' is basically one groove filled, sonic treat followed by another. 'Motorpsycho' and 'Black Cauldron' are both classic examples of retro rock, yet with sultry, idiosyncratic twists and turns all of their own, complimented by the wonderfully doped out vocals, which one might peg as a slightly cleaner sounding Jus Oborn. The 'Wizard influence is much more evident in the artwork and aesthetics rather than the music, although you have to substitute the world of Hammer Horror and Tigon for the Vietnam war.

The Sixties cast a long, psychedelic shadow over much of the work here, nowhere more conspicuously than on 'Pornadelic Opium Dreams' (great title). The organ lines reek of incense, and conjure thoughts of smokey boudoirs, lace curtains and lava lamps illuminating lysergically fueled, carnal activities therein. It's also reasonable to assume that I'm not going to get through this without mentioning Black Sabbath at some point, but the influence I would argue, is weighted far more in favour of Sabbath's stranger sounding stuff, although the title track, along with 'Mountain Of The Devils' Witch', offer more in the way of a traditional riff-heavy bang for your buck. For slightly keener musical references you'd be better served looking back at stuff like Wicked Lady, Necromandus and The Doors, and more presently towards the likes of Purple Hill Witch, and Beastmaker.

Albums like this, and there really aren't many of its kind and/or quality, are as important for the genres they serve as well as music in general. There's an obvious attention to detail both in the packaging and the production which is also reflected back in the songwriting and the performance. One thing you can't level at 'Velvet Magic' is the notion of style over substance, simply because it has bucket loads of both, and it also proves, if proof be needed, that you can take the essences of various tried and tested formulas and concoct something relevant, rocking and passionate for the here and now. 'Velvet Magic' is, as its title suggests, a smooth and mystical event. I feel no fear in calling this for what it is. An essential purchase.

[*] Editor's note: A further limited run of 300 CD copies is available - at time of publication, for preorder - through Forbidden Place Records.

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Reviewer's rating: 10/10


Tracklist :
1. Apache Snow
2. Motorpsycho
3. Black Cauldron
4. Pornodelic Opium Dreams
5. Voodoo Woman
6. Mountain Of The Devil's Witch
7. Jupiter Kush
8. Velvet Magic
9. Requiem Pour Un Vampire

Duration : Approx. 41 minutes

Visit the Devil's Witches bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-06-26 by Matt Halsey
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