gospel-of-the-witches-salems-woundsGospel Of The Witches is the latest band from former Crisis and Ephel Duath vocalist Karyn Crisis, who along with husband (and Ephel Duath guitarist) Davide Tiso have created ‘Salem’s Wounds’, a fan-funded project that has been 5 years in the making, and has now been picked up by Century Media. Featuring the brilliantly utilised backing vocals of Mike Hill from Tombs and Ross Dolan from death metal legends Immolation, ‘Salem’s Wounds’ is an album that clearly holds a lot of personal and spiritual significance to Karyn and her musicians, but still contains a surprising amount of accessibility, which is the best weapon to producing great occult music.

From the reflective opening to the expansive finale of ‘The Ascent’ (with its refrain of “Never be the same…”) ‘Salem’s Wounds’ highlights Karyn’s incredible vocals in songs such as ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘Ancient Ways’. Angelic and child-like one minute, then ferociously impassioned the next, while low death metal incantations dance around her. The guitars are both shimmering and doom-like, and as the brooding intensity of ‘Mother’ gives way to the tribal drumming of ‘Father’ the ethereal nature of the album starts to become apparent.

The electronica and lilting balladry of ‘Goddess Of Light’ and ‘Pillars’, and the catchy “nursery rhyme” chorus of ‘The Secret’ showcases Karyn Crisis’ beautiful clean vocals. There’s even a John Carpenter vibe at the beginning of the title-track itself, before it opens out.

Clearly a labour of love for all involved, ‘Salem’s Wounds’ is a stunning occult rock album that never resorts to knucklehead musical brutality to make its impact (in fact it’s only the harshness of the vocals that may push this release into “extreme” territory). It’s a work of tremendous depth and passion that will yield many rewards with repeated listening.

“Move forward, be burned…walk into the light.”

(9/10 Stuart Carroll)