Ohio doom veterans unleash Modern Witchcraft onto the terrestrial plane, their newest studio creation.
Understated in their public personas, Shaun, Steve, Shaun, and Josh are the guitar, vocal/guitar, drum, and bass musicians of Close The Hatch, a Dayton, Ohio-based “post-metal, experimental” band I wish was around when I lived there all those years ago. According to Encyclopaedia Metallum, Modern Witchcraft is the band’s fourth full-length release, with their discography being bolstered by many EPs and singles over the years. Leading up to the new one, their most recent previous release, VI in 2017, sounded to me like more straight-forward doom than some of their earlier, quirkier albums. The new one is the next step on with its clear doom grounding and its intricate assortment of delights.
The mood of this album matches the title perfectly. Melodic wailing in the opener, “Death of Wolves,” cranks up the creepy factor while the sonorous chant-like vocals halfway in have you looking over your shoulder. A strange character of this music to me is that, even though it doesn’t sound like Fates Warning or Opeth, listening to it makes me think of these bands. The solid wall of gloom is likewise somehow inexplicably a reassuring force in the next song, “Hedge Rider.” Up next, the soft beginning of the title track, the whispering story, is twisted by the rending guitars that crack the ethereal atmosphere and turn it hostile. And then “Attunement” goes the other way by opening with calamity and working into soothing passages only to return you to the tearing fabric of the composition’s essence. The writing is rich and complex across the entire album, and the musical performances are at once spiritual and clinically precise. You don’t want to miss this one. Recommended.
Modern Witchcraft is available starting Friday, May 22 from Red Moth Records via Bandcamp. Revel in the music, and the beautiful cover art by Matt Mills.
Band photo by Joshua Gwin.