Witchseeker has certainly come a long way since their debut EP in 2014, as evident from the recent launch of their debut album, When the Clock Strikes. They have certainly grown much, not only as songwriters and musicians, but also as performers. Live performances aside, would the band be able to capture that live charm and energy on their studio record, and how far they have come since the oh-so-cheesy Wishing You Were Mine? So here we are with their full length album, When the Clock Strikes.
Surprisingly, quite well. When the Clock Strikes effectively captures the band’s growth, as they further explore their musical influences, and incorporate them into a sound that is proudly theirs. Opener Speed Away immediately brings one into the familiar territory of bands like Enforcer, especially in the speedy riffs unleashed by guitarist Brandon. Sheikh’s vocal styles have also shifted here compared to those on Night Rituals, having a rougher, rawer edge to them, while adopting a slightly higher pitch as well. Because of this, oftentimes one is reminded of the earlier works of Olof of Enforcer, and the imperfections and rawness of his vocals add to that overall authentic feel to the album.
While there is no shortage of moments that lead to comparisons to Enforcer, there are also other influences that could be clearly heard on the record. For instance, the arrangement and the riffs on Angel of Sleeze brings to mind the works of Gezol’s Metalucifer, and Brandon easily adopts his playing style fittingly to the song. Heavier, but groovier songs like The Sniper even bring to mind the works of local heavy metal compatriots Suicide Solution. Also, speaking of ballads and love songs, Witchseeker has also upped their game with Dream Come True, a maturation from Wishing You Were Mine, musically, even if the lyrics remains equally cheesy.
I particularly liked that raw production quality on When the Clock Strikes. Unlike many heavy/speed metal releases of late, When the Clock Strikes manages to retain the 80s charm with that unpolished sound, without compromising any of the instruments on the mix. In fact, Sheikh’s bass is placed rather prominently in the mix, and this often gives songs a nice low-end rumble. The production quality also adds a nice live vibe on the record, and one could easily imagine watching the band live in their rehearsal studio.
It’s been quite a long while since I’ve heard such a refreshing, old school heavy metal release from a local band, with the last good heavy metal album probably being Suicide Solution‘s 2009 release Shake Well Before Abuse. Listening to this has gotten me all worked up and excited for their next live performance, and we don’t see why it won’t do the same for any self-respecting old school heavy metalhead.