All Them Witches album "Dying Surfer Meets His Maker" review by Joe Nuttall from Enola Fall
Listening to the first track 'Call Me Star' from All Them Witches 9 track album 'Dying Surfer Meets His Maker' my first thought was Fleet Foxes. Gentle acoustic guitar, soporific vocals chanting single notes, a general atmosphere of tranquillity. This reverie was shattered by the pounding Zeppelin-esque drums that suddenly kicked in and transformed the track into a heavy, hypnotic groove. Good stuff.
I found myself considering the album cover. Psychedelic and intricate up in the corners, but with a huge slab of rock up front. A visual metaphor for their sound? Probably not, but it worked for me.
The Zeppelin comparison is apt, I think. The record is disparate and complex, built on riffs and long meandering arrangements. Sometimes it works brilliantly such as the aforementioned opening track and the bleakly beautiful 'Open Passageways'. Often however, the songs can drift slightly too far off the highway. Such as the somewhat repetitive instrumental 'El Centro', (a baffling choice for a second song) and the long spoken word sections of 'This is Where it Falls Apart'.
The chiming acoustics show up again on the aptly titled 'Mellowing', a dense and sweet acoustic jam, and one of my highlights.
Elsewhere on the record I found myself surprised and confused in equal measure. Sudden bursts of excitement (The vaguely Kasabian 'Dirt Preachers') and impatience (This is Where it Falls Apart). The album almost seems like a battle between two dynamics, the long arrangements and repetitive jams speak loudly of prog, but there is a punkish drive there too. Think the Mess Hall or QOTSA in their mellower moments.
Overall, there is a fascination to All Them Witches; a vibe that is certainly worth checking out. It shines through the cracks of this album, and will hopefully become brighter with subsequent releases.