The once-stoner rock outfit, PURPLE HILL WITCH, have returned with their latest album, Celestial Cemetary. Abandoning their stoner origins for a more doom and classic rock oriented journey, the band hope to develop on their sound and continue to explore new horizons within the aforementioned genres. The question is, how does their transition in sound work on record, and how does it fare up against their 2014 debut?
Celestial Cemetary opens with the most impressive track on the record, Ghouls In Leather. Beginning with a heavy DEEP PURPLE-inspired organ piece and an array of classic rock influences, this track induces a wave of nostalgia to classic rock and is beautifully executed. As drummer Øyvind chimes in with a steady beat before guitarist Kristian introduces more flavour to the track with a beautiful little solo, the track eventually bursts into life with a significantly more doom-oriented sound than previous efforts. It’s a nigh-on nine-minute journey of classic rock infused with doom, and the atmosphere that Ghouls In Leather creates sets the record off amazingly. Kristian’s voice really compliments the power of the rest of the band, as it floats along with a slow, steady guitar pattern. A touch more variation in Kristian’s vocals across the record would have pumped Celestial Cemetary up a little more, however it works excellently in Ghouls In Leather. Harbinger Of Death is another excellent track on Celestial Cemetary, as it demonstrates that PURPLE HILL WITCH can create a heavy doom riff when they want to, and have made it clear that they can alter their sound rather drastically and pull it off.
The halfway point in this album, after the title track, is where the record loses itself somewhat. While none of the songs are bad after Celestial Cemetary, none of them particularly stand out or offer anything new to the table. For example, while the closing of Burnt Offering features a harmonica which is a nice touch, the rest of the track doesn’t feel wholly different and as such, doesn’t really have much impact on the record in comparison to what has already come. That, with the lack of bass present in the tracks (it almost frustrates as you can faintly hear Andreas in the background offering much more power to the track), it falls a little flat in comparison to the other tracks on the record. One thing for PURPLE HILL WITCH to consider on future releases is their production, and ensuring all members can be heard clearly so they can convey everything they’ve created to the masses.
PURPLE HILL WITCH have offered somewhat of a mixed bag with Celestial Cemetery. The first half of the record shows plenty of promise and potential from the band, and is a clear marker of each musician’s talent. However, the second half lets it down and falls flat, which is a shame as Celestial Cemetery could have been a lot stronger than delivered, and not the breakthrough record it could have been. While it may not be the strongest record, it certainly demonstrates PURPLE HILL WITCH‘s potential, and that they’re on the path to something quite special.
Celestial Cemetary is out now via The Church Within Records.
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