In recent years, Brazil’s Arthorium Records has established a fine track record of shining a spotlight on high-quality traditional metal gems from South America, and The Offering from Wild Witch is no exception. This is Wild Witch’s debut album, although they previously released a well-received 4-song EP (including a Tokyo Blade cover tune) on cassette via France’s Inferno Records in 2013. During the recording process for this album, Wild Witch’s vocalist left the band. In lieu of recruiting a new dedicated singer, bassist Felipe “Rippervert” took over the lead vocals and sang on the entire album, thereby streamlining Wild Witch to a power trio attack, alongside Mariano Burich on guitars and Weiberlan Garcia on drums.
To eradicate any doubt from the outset, Wild Witch play a form of old-school metal that bears all the usual influences (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, pre-pirate Running Wild, Accept, Saxon, Angel Witch), without sounding specifically like any of them. The Offering slides neatly into the intersection of the NWOBHM and the true-metal revival acts of today like Enforcer and Cauldron. Songs are of the 4-5 minute anthemic variety, with relaxed mid-paced tempos (no speed burners on display here), big sturdy riffs, scorching lead guitarwork, and often-shouted gang choruses that are easy to remember and sing along with. There’s a sincerity, an authenticity to Wild Witch’s approach that shines through in their performances. It is perfectly obvious that these are three Brazilian dudes who live and breathe 1980s heavy metal, and play it from the heart. Even better, the songs are well-written, catchy, and have a spark of inspiration that allows them to stand out even in the crowded marketplace of bands occupying the same general sonic territory these days. So it’s not that Wild Witch are doing anything differently from their peers, they’re just doing it at a very high level. Songs like “Night Rulers” (my favorite track on the album), “Blades of Pain,” and “To the Lions” are utterly convincing and instantly enjoyable, successfully capturing the spirit and the essence of what makes old-fashioned heavy metal so revered. I’ve read some criticism of Rippervert’s vocals on the Internet, but I respectfully disagree. He may not be a technically gifted singer, as if often the case when an instrumentalist assumes vocal duties following a singer’s untimely departure, but Rippervert does just fine in my book. In fact, his slightly nasal, high-pitched delivery sounds like a lot of those charming underground German metal singers of the ‘80s or even Cauldron’s Jason Decay. The important thing is that he fully compensates in enthusiasm for any technical shortcomings he may have.
If there’s a knock on The Offering, I suppose it’s that Wild Witch haven’t really developed an individual sound and style, but instead sound like an amalgamation of their influences. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I always have room in my music collection for bands that play well-executed classic heavy metal rooted in the ways of the old, with good songwriting and strong performances, even if the originality factor is not high. When I put on this Wild Witch album, I feel an uncontrollable urge to crank up the volume, dust off the trusty air guitar and sing along to the cool heavy metal anthems for 40 minutes. And that’s more than good enough for me. Sometimes the pure, uncomplicated and true ways are the best, and that’s exactly what Wild Witch deliver.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~