If like me, you were only vaguely aware of All Them Witches, it would be fair to expect them to be an out and out doom band from their name alone, fitting in so well as they would with such sorceress based acts as Witchsorrow, Acid Witch, Witch Charmer, Witchfynd……., you get the drift. Not that I’d mind, as if you’ve been to a doom gig in Scotland in the last four years, or one in London for the previous decades, there’s a fair old chance you’ll have seen my scrumpy soaked self propping up the bar. However, as soon as the first notes on ‘ATW’ rang out, I was proven wrong, and I’m glad to say, most happily wrong. This is not some down tuned slog through darkness and depression (again, nothing wrong with that folks, and I refer you to my previous statement), opener ‘Fishbelly 86 Onions’ instead being a feast of fuzz with the sort of vibe so reminiscent of The Kinks and their contemporaries as the sound of The British Invasion became alloyed with the hippy sensibilities of Haight-Ashbury.
To move even further away from nominative determinism, follow up ‘Workhorse’ meanders into the dry rock of the desert, mixing the echoing bleakness of the darkest of country sounds with the twisting, swirling fumes of THC tinged rock, a nice bit of slide work on the guitar helping to cement the atmosphere of open spaces and emptiness. The pace increases with ‘1st vs 2nd’, an unashamed rocker with the tempo of a motorbike cruising the open highways. Frankly, with its timeless sound I could easily imagine this number nestling on the soundtrack of ‘Easy Rider’ between Steppenwolf and The Fraternity of Man; hell, the laid back creep of ‘Half-Tongue’ could equally fit the bill, playing in the background as Messrs Fonda and Hopper partook of some natural relaxants next to the camp fire.
Not a single track on this album is a filler or disappointment, although if I had to pick one as a standout, it would probably be ‘Harvest Feast’, a note perfect example of the sort of “White Boy Blues” that so dominated the British rock scene in the late sixties thanks to such acts as The Yardbirds and Fleetwood Mac, by which I mean the Peter Green era band, not the coke and self-indulgence sodden soft rockers that filled so many stadiums, a sound that itself evolved via the hallucinogenic trips of Cream, Hendrix, and Zeppelin into the metal of today. Indeed, like the movement it so clearly pays homage to, ‘Harvest Feast’ itself evolves over the near eleven minute length from a purist blues formula into the realms of the psychedelic. If I ever get to see the band live, this is the one I want to hear them perform on stage. The love the band has for this pivotal time of musical experimentation continues with ‘HTJC’, a track that has the feeling of one of the magical incantations that Jim Morrison funnelled through the music of The Doors, whilst album closer ‘Rob’s Dream’ would fit in perfectly with ‘Meddle’ period Pink Floyd, a poetic whimsy accompanied by keyboards, guitar, bass and drums all played with an almost caressing gentleness, geared to lull the listener into their own waking dream.
‘ATW’ is not an album for whipping up the crowd to a frenzy of punching fists and flailing hair. Quite the opposite in fact; I imagine if you looked in the correct dictionary for the phrase “Mellow As Fuck”, the definition would simply say “See All Them Witches.” I’d managed to somehow miss this act for far too long, but with this superlative introduction to their sound, I’ll be splashing some cash on their back catalogue. If you are as ignorant of them as I was, I can only recommend you do the same.