‘Ouija’ is the debut album from doom crew Dead Witches, a band formed by Electric Wizard’s Mark Greening and Psychedelic Witchcraft front-woman Virginia Monti, a band that during their short existence have had to deal with the tragic death of a band member, guitarist Greg Elk.
With such a band pedigree, you may know what to expect, and at an economic running time of 33 minutes, ‘Ouija’ wastes little time in bringing the occult flavoured doom.
The ‘Intro’ sets the scene. Rain and thunder, with Carl Geary’s fuzz bass, and the mournful wail of guitar, leading us into the crawl of ‘Dead’. The slight distortion effect on Monti’s vocals lead to an eerie, somewhat monotone, detachment, but this is probably intentional. It lends ‘Ouija’ a sinister ethereal quality that works well with Elk’s simple, but effective guitar leads.
The pace picks up (slightly) with the tribal sound of ‘Drawing Down The Moon’. And if you listen carefully…the evocative guitar lines are allowed to creep around behind the wall of fuzz, as the track rides out in crashing percussion and riffed-up energy, while the haunting bends and leads of ‘Ouija’ takes us to the rather catchy refrain of “No God in Heaven, No God in Hell’.
‘Mind Funeral’ serves up some hefty weight, while allowing the vocals to stretch their black wings a bit more, and the morbid progression and ‘Exorcist’ sound-bite of ‘A World In Darkness’, brings us a riff that is absolutely FILTHY.
Here, the vocal melodies take much more prominence, and Greening’s nifty little drum jam heralds in the tracks final wretched chord, which leaves the album on an impressive note.
While a little tricky to say if ‘Ouija’ will truly stand out from the rest of the doom crowd, it’s a solid and enjoyable debut, from a band with immense potential.
As far as guitar work goes, it’s a great tribute to Greg Elk, and with striking cover artwork from Goatess Doomwych, (using ‘Ouija’ as a vessel) Dead Witches are well worth making contact with.
(7.5/10 Stuart Carroll)