Doctor Smoke, Dreamers and the Dead (Ripple Music 2021)

The second album from Ohio heavy rockers Doctor Smoke stirs the cauldron and speaks the words.

The Witching Hour came out in 2014. That album set a rattle in my bones that still gives me a tingle now and then. The music is a collaboration with darkness and groove, horror and insight, and it presents the world to you in a way you might not have thought about before. And yet it rings absolutely true. There are not a lot of groups who can do that, so Doctor Smoke occupies a rarified ethereal realm. The band is Matt Tluchowski (guitar and vocals), Steve Lehocky (guitar), Jeff Young (bass), and Cody Cooke (drums).

Ten sinister tracks of rock and metal mayhem, that’s what Dreamers and the Dead is. The tendency is toward mid-tempo enhanced by an enthusiastic flair that moves the music along like an evenly distributed accelerant. Rebellious shifts abound revealing alcoves and clandestine mysteries. As an example, “These Horrid Things” is a song burbling with variegation and insistent twists highlighted by elegant guitar work. And it is not the only one. The entire album is an enigma in the sense that it is fascinating – a reliably wicked puzzle from which you cannot look away.

I particularly appreciate “What Lies Beyond” with its lounge-tuned section followed immediately by a ripping lead break, and title track, with its blunt assessment of the nature of reality. This album absolutely cracks. I was enormously impressed by the band’s first album, and I like this new one even better. If you don’t yet have Doctor Smoke on a playlist you are really missing out. Highly recommended.

Dreamers and the Dead is out now from Ripple Music. You will find the digital, CDs, vinyl, and merch at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://doctorsmoke.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/doctorsmokeband

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/doctor-smoke-dreamers-and-the-dead-deluxe-vinyl-editions

Doctor Smoke, Dreamers and the Dead (Ripple Music 2021)

Bewitcher, Cursed Be Thy Kingdom (Century Media 2021)

The third album from Bewitcher is filled with sinister metal mayhem and headbanging kicks.

After releasing a handful of demos in the mid-twenty-teens, Bewitcher put out their first long-player in 2016, Bewitcher. Three years later there was Under The Witching Cross and the new one is a big step up in distribution and availability. This is a good thing for the metal listening public because the band has a style that will definitely appeal to a broad base of fans.

After a brief acoustic intro piece that transitions into the electric, the first song is “Death Returns…” It is a peppy metal positioning, upbeat in the rhythm and hoisting a roughened vocal presentation to tell a cautionary dark fantasy tale. It is goodtime music for bad times.

“Satanic Magic Attack” is another banger in a similar vein and we are getting the feeling that this is going to be a high-energy roll – and that is what you get, one song after another. Highlights include the title track with its short smash and grab attack and “Metal Burner” for a similar reason but at an even higher burn rate. “Valley of the Ravens” sticks in my head as well because it diverges and is more ponderous and has a weightier kind of power.

The out-song is “Sign Of The Wolf” and I think this one will get a lot of play on tour. I sure hope so. It is a great way to wrap up a good metal set, with catchy hooks and a short whirling lead break. I will be playing this album on the long summer road trips ahead. Recommended.

Cursed Be Thy Kingdom is out on Friday, April 16th in all the places you would expect.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bewitcher.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://www.bewitcher.us/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/BewitcherOfficial

Label, https://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=2019

Bewitcher, Cursed Be Thy Kingdom (Century Media 2021)