Photo courtesy of All Them Witches Bandcamp
Story by Max Leach / Contributing Writer
In a generation defined by bumping 808s and bass drops, one can easily be convinced that rock ‘n’ roll as we once knew it has faded out of relevance. Rightfully so, as most rock bands (think Greta Van Fleet) nowadays seem to follow the templates laid out for them by their predecessors. All Them Witches, however, is a group that goes against the grain. Instead of recreating what’s already been done, a sound that can grow so monotonous, the Nashville natives have grown to master the lost art of melting faces with the release of their fifth studio album, simply titled “ATW.”
Since their debut album in 2012, titled “Our Mother Electricity,” the catalog of All Them Witches has a unique formula, which blends fuzz-infused blues riffs with undertones deriving from desert-garage stoner rock bands like Kyuss or Queens of the Stone Age. The result is a heavy psychedelic whirlwind, one that reminisces Black Sabbath with its dark, at times melancholic, draw accompanied by eerie guitar tones. “ATW” follows this formula from a different angle, however, which can be heard right off the bat in the first track, “Fishbelly 86 Onions.” This opening track immediately contrasts with the rest of their work, which was on the pathway of predictability. “Fishbelly 86 Onions” turns the listener towards a different, yet familiar direction with its fast-paced, 6/4 approach, complemented with less serious lyrics and energetic organ playing.
Other tracks like “Diamond” contradict the initial pace of the album while maintaining an other-worldly level of sheer power throughout. The band utilizes dynamics naturally and sensitively, as the pulsing rhythm, guitar and drums shift between average and thunderous in an explosive manner. This same powerful sound can be felt on the 11-minute slow blues jam, “Harvest Feast.” That said, not all songs on the album hold the same level of intensity as others do. “1st vs. 2nd” feels like a filler. While it features experimental guitar tones, the riff itself chugs on in a predictable way and leaves you waiting to give the next song a chance.
Toward the end of the album, “HJTC” is the most distinctive track you will hear. It’s cinematic in its southern melancholic delivery, as singer Charles Michael Parks Jr. becomes the most vulnerable we’ve heard him. He croons in saying, “All my life I’ve been confused.” And the song utilizes those renowned dynamics, shifting from a droning into a more gradual pace. This song is the most unconventional we’ve heard from All Them Witches, but it’s not the most complex by any means. The final track of the album, “Rob’s Dream” is most reminiscent of late ’70s rock, coming to life with stretching guitar solos layered over a heavy-hitting jam. Though the song feels familiar, it serves as an appropriate closer to the album, ending with the same energy that the band kicked the album off with.
“ATW” encapsulates the band’s capabilities as a whole, providing bits of contention and dynamics between them that can only promise a spectacular live performance. All Them Witches can be confident in the experimentation of blending genres and sounds, thus constructing something which further defines their heavy sonority. It would be dangerous to predict where All Them Witches is headed next, but one thing that’s certain is they are headed in the right direction.
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