Witchrider have rapidly gained momentum over the past year. Their self-titled debut EP was more than enough to capture the attention of Truckfighters, who consequently signed the Austrian four-piece to their Fuzzorama Records label and set to work on a split EP with them. Now they gear up to unleash their debut full-length, as well as embarking on a European tour with their labelmates.
On the surface of it all, Witchrider‘s debut album ‘The Unmountable Stairs‘ is a fuzzed up slice of alternate rock but there really is a lot of depth and character to it all. Kicking into overdrive with the infectious ‘OCD‘, they show that they mean business. Even heavy use of the guitar fuzz effect isn’t enough to conceal the band’s hard rock capabilities and instead lends a hand in creating a raw and rough-around the edges sound that oozes rock sensibility.
‘1 For 5‘ serves to showcase Witchrider’s stoner-rock influences, not sounding entirely dissimilar to the work of stoner legends Kyuss, and the demented recurring laughter adds a somewhat darker tone. Not to mention the lyrics are batshit crazy (‘A little sugar for the lowlife, aslice of fairtrade pepper up the Hollywood nose, until there comes a Chilli cheese man, the greater mighty boss is the Wizard of Oz’) and when you put it all together, you come away with one the most memorable and enjoyable tracks to be released this year.
Towards the middle of the album however, the tone seems to shift. Not emotionally or behaviourally – ‘The Unmountable Stairs’ remains an uplifting and joyous experience from start to finish – but their sound seems to veer in a completely different direction, borrowing more from the sounds of Soundgarden on I’m Outta Breath, and even more so from Foo Fighters one track later with ‘Far From You‘. In fact, the similarities are so palpable that you could swear this track was originally a B-side from FF’s self-titled debut, with vocalist Daniel Dorninger even chipping in with a fantastic impression of Dave Grohl.
‘The Cabin‘ is a late highlight for the album; a brooding track that swells to a stampeding and dangerous sounding anthem. Not only is this a fantastic example of their already first-rate songwriting abilites, but also of their patience and intelligence, progressing at the perfect time at the perfect pace to deliver a track that is… well, perfect. Likewise, ‘The Fog‘ showcases not only Dorninger’s vocal range, but also how tight this band is. In perfect unison, they slink at a pace that beggars belief – it feels as if the track could stall and die out at any minute, but each note rolls into the fray with clinical precision.
Album closer ‘Styx‘ sees a transition more toward the sound of early Queens of the Stone Age, but also allows the band to deliver everything that has worked on ‘The Unmountable Stairs‘ in one fell swoop. The haunting gang vocals, the exquisite intricacy of the instrumentation, the unseen yet wholly appreciated showmanship and most of all the ability and capabilities of this young band.
It’s not the perfect album, but when it works, it works incredibly well. Witchrider are out to become your new favourite band, and within even half a playthrough of this album, they have you in their grasp. A delightfully intoxicating record with some of the best album art we’ve ever seen and also some of the the most promising material we’ve heard all year.