Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
There’s one track on ‘The Witch of the North’ that sums up both the whole album and, moreover, the whole ethos of Burning Witches.
That track is ‘Flight of the Valkyries’. The Swiss based quintet seem to live and breath the same air as American Gods of Metal, Manowar, their steely determination to conquer all in battle hewn from the same pages as the mythical Norse figures they namecheck in the song.
Since forming in 2015 it seems that their intent was to set out from the land of snow-capped mountains and beautiful lakes and cause as much mayhem throughout the world and this latest release should see the band one huge leap forward.
From the opening salvo of atmospheric opener ‘Winter’s Wrath’ as it segues into the taught Euro Metal of the title track, it’s heads down and all guns blazing in a display so epic to make most bands seem if though they’re kids playing in a sandbox.
The siren vocals of Laura Guldemond mix with intoxicating power alongside the twin guitar attack of Romana Kalkuhl and Larissa Ernest, each driving home the point that the female is deadlier than the male.
Tainted Ritual’ sounds like ‘Painkiller’ era Judas Priest and gives the rhythm section of Jeanine Grob on bass and Lala Frischknecht on drums to display their not inconsiderable chops, laying down a beat that crushes.
Statement of the bond they have ‘We Stand As One’ is dark and swirling and ‘The Circle of Fire’ is 80’s down tuned thrash that has more than a passing nod to the power of Metallica at their most fiery and feral.
Elsewhere, thrash rears up again in the epic ‘Nine Worlds’ and both ‘Thrall’ and ‘Dragon’s Dream’ have the galloping charge and storytelling of prime Iron Maiden.
The aforementioned Manowar are given a real run for their money with the bloodied swords and battle hymns of ‘For Eternity’, Burning Witches showing they are more than a match for the loinclothed combo.
Amongst the mayhem there is a doubtless craft and some dexterous handling of light of shade, the band displaying their ability to craft a ballad like ‘Lady of the Woods’ as well as the foot to the floor metal.
The Witch of the North’ stands as a stark reminder that rock is alive, well and stronger than ever as barriers are torn down and old conceptions shattered. A gloriously triumphant roar, the album shows that Burning Witches are here to stay and out to slay all those who would stand in their way.