Originally released last October digitally through Bandcamp, The Vast Electric Dark from Australia’s Witchskull has found an exclusive new home on 12″ Vinyl.
It’s essentially a new Black Sabbath album in everything but tone, but without the thematic changes that made efforts such as the eponymous track Black Sabbath so endearing. Witchskull offer more Iron Man, War Pigs and N.I.B. – you know, the filler tracks that helped define heavy metal.
With its classic sound it’s a fair study but falls short of being iconic, perhaps due to borrowing too heavily from the seventies or because it tries the same moves over and over. Often changing the pace on a theme and riffing on it.
Without its own personality The Vast Electric Dark is a good if not great imitation of an era of counter-cultures enthralled with the senselessness of war and peace. Even with its blues heritage articulated with conviction there’s a point of it that makes me deny its credibility “Not The Sabbath!” as baby dinosaur would say.
However those are all points in comparison to Black Sabbath and it wouldn’t be right to not give the album its dues as it’s pretty solid stoner rock. Its tongue in cheek attitude holds a very rhythmic and funky set of songs that reek of accomplishment, practice and consideration. It has it’s moments.
There’s a lot of talent in Witchsorrow but not enough character. The instrumentation is strong but it’s artificially so as it sits in the shadow of all that has gone before. Where the timeless accruement of its sound is a great refresher for those wanting meaty riffs with some torque behind them. It relies on the formula for blues inspired heavy rock like a teacher on tests.
However unoriginal it’s pleasant enough and most importantly entrancing, warranting a good few head nods in the right direction. While it leans too heavily on the past achievements of other bands and it does so without branching out far enough to assert its own merits.
The tunes would be amazing to see live but the medium of recorded music is more of a souvenir from a good trip than an indictment to rock.