Attic – Return of the Witchfinder Review

Mmmmmm… King Diamond-core. It’s been seven years since Attic delivered its top-form masterpiece, Sanctimonious. And now, They’re back again to ensure I’m erect for the remainder of the year. This new record continues the trend the band has been on even before Kim Bendix Petersen was but a wily sperm in his father’s nutsack. Delivering no-frills, old-school Satanic heavy metal, this German quintet combines soaring falsettos, creepy organs, and Mercyful Fate-esque dueling guitar work to shape yet another hour’s worth of music. If you’ve followed the band since their 2012 debut, The Invocation, you’ll find nothing new on this year’s Return of the Witchfinder. But, that’s ok because it’s more about the performance and overall concept of their releases that keep me coming back for more. But, we all want to see if this new record can top their previous effort. Will the Witchfinder be worthy enough to stiffen Grier‘s trouser snake?

If anything, Return of the Witchfinder sports even more nifty guitar leads and dueling action than before. This is probably due in part to a new guitarist joining the fold. As lovers of all that is KD, it only makes sense to dig deeper into those Mercyful Fate tendencies. And Return of the Witchfinder is that album. You’ll also find more of Meister Cagliostro’s weirdly satisfying transitions from falsettos to low growls, as he haunts the airwaves with his Satanic prayers and witchy spells. Hell, there are even moments when the drums provide some flair to the record. The biggest difference between Sanctimonious and Return of the Witchfinder is that the former hit me right away, while the latter is a grower. Appreciating this new record requires repeat listens to experience all the new intricacies the band has subtly incorporated into the mix.

Return Of The Witchfinder by Attic

After the haunting strings of “The Covenant” set the mood, “Darkest Rites” dives right in with soaring falsettos that climb one second and dip into menacing growls in the next. The riffs are traditional to the style and, honestly, none too impressive. But, as I said before, the back-and-forth dueling solos are bigger and badder than ever. “The Thief’s Candle” takes the vocal performance even further—flailing, flying, and growling in absurd ways. The mid-paced plod lends well to the flow of the vocals until it approaches hooking, midpoint leads that eventually fall away to nothing. It kicks back in with melodic, reverberating guitars and soft vocals before growing to a climactic finish. But, the follow-up title track tops the others for hooks and dueling guitar work. This chugger pounds away on your brain and impregnates it with one of the speediest and most memorable choruses on the album. Unlike the others, the guitars play off each other not in the ways of Mercyful Fate but, instead, Iron Maiden. This subtle axe work adds even more influence to the song and propels it in ways the band has never achieved.

That said, the best tracks on the album are the beefy “Azrael” and the bombastic “The Baleful Baron.” The first charges out the gate with badass, intricate, old-school Mercyful Fate riffage that takes me way back. When it hits the chorus, I almost forgot which album I was listening to. Completely out of his wheelhouse, Meister Cagliostro sacrifices the falsettos for powerful clean vocals that stunned me. But in a good way because I can’t find fault in the decision, and the song wouldn’t work any other way. As it transitions to traditional King Diamond territories, it builds once more to predictable solo work to close out. Set up beautifully by its instrumental predecessor, “The Baleful Baron” showcases lively kit work before diving headfirst into perhaps the most killer riff on the record. With a tight, five-minute runtime, this track is a powerful piece that builds as it goes, concluding with stellar overlapping King Diamond vocal action.

As a complete package, Return of the Witchfinder is a strong addition to the band’s catalog. Where Sanctimonious sucked me in right away, the new additions and required investment of Return of the Witchfinder made it fun on repeat listens because there is always something new I didn’t catch on the previous spin. The only downside of the record is that it takes a while to get going. While I don’t fault tracks like “Darkest Rites” and “Hailstorm and Tempest,” I’m not really invested until I hit “The Thief’s Candle.” But, once you get to that point, everything else is worth it as the album gets stronger as it goes. In the end, the band hasn’t quite achieved that record that would push them into counter-decimation territories, but Attic shouldn’t be as good as they are. Once again, I’m impressed, swollen like an eggplant, and spinning this album like a top until I get more.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Ván Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 5th, 2024

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