Burning Witches – Dance with the Devil

Burning Witches - Dance With The Devil_4000pxWith their third album it seems Burning Witches have finally found their sweet spot. Time to do some dancing with the devil.

Before we dive into our review of Burning WitchesDance with the Devil I have to say a few words about the video clip we embedded below, and that’s because it’s a textbook example of how not to promote an otherwise good band or album. This is a band that can kick some serious ass, and does exactly that on the rest of the album. They have a pounding rhythm section, two guitarists who can seriously shred and a vocalist who can belt out her lyrics like a banshee, effortlessly alternating between high wails and ferocious growls. There is a song on the album called Necronomicon and it actually sounds fucking evil. If that sounds awesome it’s because it is. Also, none of that can be found in either the song or the video. It’s like selling Manowar’s majestic Into Glory Ride on the opening track Warlord. So don’t be misled here, Dance with the Devil is an absolute corker of a heavy metal album, it’s just being advertised wrongly.

So with that out of the way: Burning Witches is a Swiss/Dutch all-female metal band who have just dropped their third album, and it’s easily their best one yet. Both 2017’s self-titled debut and 2018’s Hexenhammer showed glimpses of greatness but the songwriting was too uneven to really make a lasting impression. Apparently three time’s the charm with these ladies because Dance with the Devil hits nearly all the right marks, the title track basically being the only near-dud. The rest is good to great, with the band definitely excelling in the up-tempo fare. The ten original songs are as traditional as they get; you have your Priest-like riffs, there are definite hints of Mercyful Fate in the twin leads and the album is capped off with a very faithful cover of Manowar’s Battle Hymn The latter is so faithful that they actually got ex-Manowar guitarist Ross the Boss (and Symphony X / Ross the Boss bassist Mike LePond) along for the ride.

Distilled down into a very concise fifty minutes, Dance with the Devil is an old-school heavy metal album done by the book. Starting out with a short intro and Lucid Nightmare, the band immediately goes all-out when it comes to showing what they can do. New vocalist Laura immediately makes a big impression, reminding me of Sacred Steel’s Gerrit Mutz in her ability to successfully alternate between regular vocals, high-pitched screams and unearthly growls. It adds a lot of grit and edge to the material and spices things up where it needs to be spiced up. Highlight in this respect is the brooding Necronomicon where she wails, growls and grunts her way through the material, adding some real menace to an already evil sounding song. The album flows really well too, varying to great extent between slower tracks and speedy songs with a good power ballad (Black Magic) thrown in right in the middle to mix things up before reaching the big apotheosis that is Battle Hymn. If you are able to close your album off in style by delivering an almost perfect cover of one of the best metal songs ever written (fight me), you’ve done well. Not Manowar’s Eric Adams in his twenties well, mind, but well enough.

BurningWitches2020b

Dance with the Devil is a fun and mostly great slab of classic fist in the air heavy metal and sometimes that’s all you need from an album. No faster than light solos, flashy arpeggios or other self-congratulatory instrumental cartwheels; just honest, balls to the wall classic metal with one foot rooted in the eighties and the other firmly in the present. It’s also the first Burning Witches album on which the band really lives up to its potential and I would not be surprised if this would finally lead to some sort of breakthrough for them. So if you’re into ye olde Judas Priest, Accept, Mercyful Fate and the lot and like your heavy metal simple but effective, look no further than Dance with the Devil. Just skip the title track.

Label: Nuclear Blast, 2020

Track listing:

  1. The Incantation (0:57)
  2. Lucid Nightmare (4:50)
  3. Dance With The Devil (4:26)
  4. Wings Of Steel (4:29)
  5. Six Feet Underground (4:31)
  6. Black Magic (5:06)
  7. Sea Of Lies (4:56)
  8. The Sisters Of Fate (3:31)
  9. Necronomicon (4:12)
  10. The Final Fight (4:35)
  11. Threefold Return (3:56)
  12. Battle Hymn (feat. Ross The Boss & Michael Lepond) (6:55)

Line-up:

  • Laura – vocals
  • Romana – guitars
  • Sonia – guitars
  • Jay – bass
  • Lala – drums

Further surfing:

Review by Ralph Plug

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