Rising from the hellish depths of Portland, Oregon, Bewitcher returned on Friday, April 16, 2021 with their new album Cursed Be Thy Kingdom via Century Media Records.
First birthed in 2013, the American Metal band worked through several demos before releasing their eponymous debut in 2016, followed by 2019’s Under the Witching Cross. For Cursed Be Thy Kingdom, the duo of Mateo Von Bewitcher (aka Matt Litton) on guitar/vocals and Andreas Magus (aka Andrew Mercil) on bass are joined by Aris Hunter (aka Aris Wales), who takes over for original Drummer Rand Crusher.
While other bands have dipped their Heavy Metal swords into surrounding murky waters, such as Rock, Punk, or even Country, Bewitcher have long fostered a unique and accessible sound, one which continues with Cursed Be Thy Kingdom. Complete with 10 tracks, the opening notes of “Ashe” find you left on a desolate American Western outpost, wondering if the ills of the land have departed town or are simply taking respite just over the horizon. This is while the album closes with a knowingly accurate cover of Pentagram’s “Sign of the Wolf.”
Wedged between these two tracks are thirty minutes of battering rhythms and ensorcelling guitar solos. Within this approach band manages to coax a large, heavy sound out of their power trio setup; think a moderately heavier Motörhead, and a somewhat punkier Venom. This in mind, there is still plenty of room for Von Bewitcher to rip, especially on tracks like “Metal Burner,” “The Widow’s Blade,” as well as “Valley of the Ravens.” Furthermore, the latter track of these mentioned finds the rhythm section laying the lowest, grittiest pace of the entire album.
Elsewhere, such as the midpoint break of “Electric Phantoms,” the field is cleared for planned headbanging, in the vein of Megadeth and other ’80s Thrash legends. On the other hand, “The Widow’s Blade” instead has one of the quicker paces, including the various guitar solos, which alternate with an efficacy that flies in the face of the track being one of the longer efforts here.
Helping bring the album to life, Bewitcher has also released a slew of videos to date; including a sparse visualizer for “Satanic Magick Attack,” proper works for “Mystifier (White Night City)” and “Valley of the Ravens,” plus one for “Electric Phantoms” which features some grainy interpolation.
Overall, Cursed Be Thy Kingdom features a raspy vocals smack of Black Metal, riffs that leap out of the fastest Thrash and Speed Metal chains, and a rhythm section in particular that is rooted in Heavy Metal. By the time the Pentagram cover arrives, it almost makes too much sense, but just barely and efficiently caps off a turbulent ride through the past, present, as well as future of Heavy Metal. A breaking through for Bewitcher, Cryptic Rock gives Cursed Be Thy Kingdom 4 out of 5 stars.