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Purple Hill Witch : Celestial Cemetery

Getting over the 'difficult second album' with some panache, Purple Hill Witch deliver with a swagger.

'Celestial Cemetery' sees Oslo's Purple Hill Witch return with the follow up to their eponymous 2014 debut with another barnstorming mashup of bluesy, proto-metal and bludgeoning, groove-laden Doom. In fact, the title of their first release the 2011 demo, 'Doomstone Blues' - still remains a rather apt description of their swaggering sound. It's a sound with at least one foot planted firmly in the past; the hazy, patchouli-scented days of the early 1970s for the most part, but, given the incredible energy Purple Hill Witch bring to the music, there is still a vibrancy and a freshness to the album.

Proceedings kick off promisingly with a series of strong tracks, none more so than the rifftastic opener, 'Ghouls in Leather'; an epic, bluesy proto-metal stomp that keeps on rocking for just over 8 minutes. Singer Kristian's vocals, whilst surely owing some debt to Ozzy, are immediately striking: a stoned, menacing wail with just a hint of bruised vulnerability. With a great chorus and a memorable hook, it's an opening track that it's impossible not to want to rock out to. Steeped in the halcyon days of the early 70s and infused with a satisfying buzz of grimy distortion, it's like the last fifty years never happened. And no bad thing, either.

And after that promising opening, the album lands blow after blow to the solar plexus with a series of bludgeoning, blues tinted slabs of crunching Doom n Roll. Title track, 'Celestial Cemetery' delivers another crunching riff, a storming solo and a standout vocal performance delivered in Kristian's inimitable haunting, almost other-worldly tone. There is a slight dip in quality as the album passes the midway point, albeit not a complete disintegration by any means, but the flawless strutting confidence that came before it loses its way slightly for a brief period. That said, maintaining that standard for a whole album if extremely difficult, and it's a rarity for any album not to have the odd bit of filler here and there. Thankfully, final track, 'Burnt Offering' sees the album to a close in triumphant fashion. As the pummelling, groove laden behemoth of a number draws to a close, there's a soaring harmonica solo culminating in a duelling guitar and blues harp battle that develops into a full on freakout that is absolutely scintillating.

'Celestial Cemetery' treads familiar ground, but it treads it with an assured swagger, breathing furious energy into a retro sound to create a fresh, vital album. Monster riffs, groove-laden hooks, haunting vocals, and some wild blues harp all combine to create a very solid record steeped in the history of many of the greats indeed the very founding fathers of the genre, but with a distinctive sound of its own. A very solid release for 'that difficult second album', and one that cements Purple Hill Witch's burgeoning reputation as purveyors of fine vintage Doom.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Ghouls in Leather
2. Harbinger Of Death
3. Celestial Cemetery
4. Around The Universe
5. Menticide
6. The First Encounter
7. Burnt Offering

Duration : Approx. 39 minutes

Visit the Purple Hill Witch bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-04-29 by Nick Harkins
Vanha - Black Lion
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