ATTIC - Return Of The Witchfinder

March 13, 2024, 4 months ago


Mark Gromen

Rating: 9.0

review heavy metal attic

ATTIC - Return Of The Witchfinder

As we await a new Mercyful Fate record, the time will seem much shorter with the latest from Germany's answer to the King & Crew. Album #3, for Attic, is almost seven years in the making, although they catapulted from the underground, to a number of high profile tours/festival appearances right before the Covid pandemic, and like everyone else, have been playing catch-up ever since. Fear not, the hallmarks of the stellar Sanctimonious album have been retained and expounded upon. A little more atmosphere and ear candy throughout the eight proper cuts (plus a pair of short, intro/intermezzo pieces).

The proceedings open with the low moan of cello, with an eerie violin atop. During its 108 seconds, "The Covenant" gradually builds into a gravel throated whisper, surrounded by ghastly screams that segues directly into "Darkest Rites", which kicks off with a patented Meister Cagliostro falsetto yelp. Throughout the rest of the proper opener (as well as the entire platter), the vocalist employs a King Diamond style dynamic shift, from piercing high, to more guttural lows. All the meanwhile, the twin guitars swirl around. Good stuff!

More of the same, albeit a little more aggro, from the howling wind introduced "Hailstorm And Tempest". Grittier guitar tones for "The Thief's Candle". The initial half is a mid-tempo grind, with plenty of high point accents, courtesy of Caglostro, while the final portion is virtually a cappella or instrumental (not much musical/vocal overlap). The title track appears next, squarely in the middle of the running order and undoubtedly the strongest cut of the batch. A shrill scream greets the riffing number. Between the guitar interplay and the repeated high pitched howls, it's almost a Mercyful outtake: meant as the highest compliment. The shrieks of the girl burned at the stake, as depicted on the colorful cover art, finish the tune.

More speedy guitars for "Offerings To Baalberith", almost entirely sung in falsetto. By contrast, "Azrael", the shortest number (a hair under 5 minutes) is more upbeat, almost lilting, and predominantly in "normal" voice. A palette cleansing, 66 second instrumental, with liturgical organ, "Up In The Castle" sets the stage for "The Baleful Baron", another strong MF construct. At 7:33, the "Synodus Horrenda" finale is the lengthiest composition. Another aggressive one, with a traditional black metal swirl of guitars and two-tone vocalizations. If someone needs to know what Attic are about, this (or the titular epic) should provide sufficient evidence. The disc concludes with pair of acoustic guitars, alone.

One of the brightest spots on the metal horizon!

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