BURNING WITCHES - The Dark Tower
April 30, 2023, a month ago
There's been some line-up juggling within the Swiss Misses: some permanent, others temporary, but the influx of ideas (along with guidance from members of Destruction) has created the strongest, most consistent platter of their short career. A baker's dozen offerings (although a pair are simply short intros) can often be too many choices, but these are all strong efforts, heavy on riffing and gritty vocals (courtesy of Laura Guldemond, the real star here).
Tortured and heavy takes on traditional metal, with plenty of showy guitar flourishes, it all begins with a cryptic voiceover, the 63 jangly seconds called "Rise Of Darkness". Mood set, Guldemond greets the listener with one of her larynx shredding screams, a call to arms heralding "Unleash The Beast". A more accurate moniker would be hard to find. A fast moving cut built around speed riffing and double bass drums, come the chorus. Make no mistake, this isn't thrash (or any heavier sub-genre), although there are moments when it borders on such, but there's a strong sense of melody throughout each composition.
A mid-paced, locomotive clickety-clack inherent in the best Teutonic metal resides within "Renegade". Musically it's not far afield of long running, like-minded Swedish veterans, who possess a song/album of the same name. What stands apart is the harsher female voice. Evil chant and cackling crone kick off one of the strongest moments, "Evil Witch". Aggressive and delivered in a flurry, it's built for the stage, with fist pumping chorus and plenty of guitar interplay. Twin trilling guitars give way to a Painkiller era Judas Priest inspired "World On Fire".
Speaking of classic influences, ballad "Tomorrow" briefly recalls Scorpions, although no one will confuse Laura for Klaus (even if the vocals are doubled tracked on that one). Lighter/cell phone moment passed, after the unnerving, 54 seconds "House Of Blood" intermezzo, it's back to ballsy, with the video/single/title track: another heavy, guitar driven number. Walking the line between traditional and power metal, albeit with omnipresent guitar, is "Heart Of Ice", while "Arrow Of Time" takes a more belabored gait. "Doomed To Die" is the third standout song (ordering preference amongst the triumphant trio changes, with each repeated listen).
At 6:31, "Into The Unknown" is the lengthiest inclusion, another helping of that mid-tempo, Germanic vibe. The disc ends (if somewhat unceremoniously) with "The Lost Souls". Lackluster, but not detracting from what has come before. Now to get them back on North American soil.