CD Review

Witchkrieg – “Dark My Way”

By Marcus Pan

Dark My WayAustralia wakes up with a new label...Rede & Rite Records. Committed to providing a Pagan level of rock and metal programming for the area, their first CD comes to me labeled as Witchkrieg's Dark My Way. Their stance is to rail against the lack of representation that witches, pagans and other occultists have in music. While we have our war mongers, our political guitar-riffing activists, even our Christian brethren banging out strains about that which is holy – where's the craft representation says Witchkrieg. It's a noble concept.

The musicianship of Witchkrieg, comprised of Andrew Old (guitar/drums/bass/vocals), Rob Prado (guitar/bass/synth/vocals) and Barb Ettridge (lead vocals), isn't bad by any standards. Crude, yes. Unpolished, that too. But there's plenty of us that would rather jam to the noisy garage induced strains of Blind Dog rather than the squeaky cleanliness of Creed. So that shouldn't be a deterrent, and with this being Rede & Rite's first release we can easily forgive them the live-to-tape lack of sound quality.

The main issue is vocals. It's forced, flat and just doesn't stoke me like they should. The guitars, bass, percussion and instrumentation itself falls together wonderfully and remains solid and true throughout Dark My Way. But Barb's vocals lack the strong, far reaching power I want from a metal chick and, in some cases, can even wreck some tracks. Take Pentagram as only one example – seriously good work with guitars, bass and drums. But the lyrics lack much content and with Barb's off kilter singing of same it downplays the track to silliness. Pentagram, with the level of instrument playing shown here, can in its own right be a damn fine instrumental of even N.I.B. or Laguna Sun level quality.

Stand on track 11 is another one of these vocal-destruction scenarios. While you can still hear the live-to-tape thump, the opening strains, guitar work and drumming is solid and quite good. It shows the capabilities of both Rob Prado and Andrew Old quite clearly. But Ettridge's off-key yowling completely wrecks what could have been a great old school metal anthem.

Not that the guys are great vocalists either. Deviation follows the previous Stand and one of the guys open with the first stanza to much chagrin. Not quite good...but he doesn't attempt to hit notes that are blatantly out of his vocal range. Out features such cheesy lyrics as "Out of the broom closet!" And the synths are just an example of fucking around too much in the studio while high. Just cut this track and ship further copies of Dark My Way with the previous eleven, says I.

In short, Witchkrieg have the capability to be something special. A new age of Slayer, Maiden and Metallica thrash metal to replace the boys that have sold their souls to corporate America (and then started suing their fans). The musicianship is there with only some exceptions (the album closing Out for example), the guitar solos bring back memories of headbanging days and the riffs are solid. Build up a bit of cash for higher production capabilities to get rid of the kids-in-the-garage sound (or keep it...some of us really won't mind as I've said), and then get a vocalist because it's sorely needed for Witchkrieg to be taken seriously enough to hit the Australian charts and more.

Contact Information:
Rede & Rite Records
Post: PO Box 902, Civic Square, Act 2608, Australia
Phone: +61 (0) 417 698 816