Witchery

Symphony for the Devil

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AllMusic Review by

By combining the influences of the nascent thrash of the mid-'80s with the increased spittle and gristle of the modern black metal of the band's homeland, Witchery made a name for themselves on the underground. With the release of Symphony for the Devil, the Swedish troupe perfected the admixture and made a classic album on par with some of the legendary artists of the genre. The riffs come at you fast, such as on the chugging neo-classical thrash of instrumental "Bone Mill" and the blow-out-your-doors intensity of "Wicked," or decelerated to grindy mid-tempos, such as on such as on the Motörhead-inspired "Unholy War," and with varied tempos within the parameters of a single song. ("Shallow Grave," for example, melds doomy passages and lightning-quick solos immaculately.) The key is the guitars here, always bigger than life and leading every song like a general would troops to battle. Though the production allows for the other instrumentation to be heard -- witness "Enshrined" and its prominently displayed bouncy, fuzzy bassline -- it is the amazing fretwork that drives Symphony for the Devil to the dizzying heights to which it aspires. Toxine's vocals still resemble a poor-man's Lee Dorian, which isn't to say that he's in need of replacing; however, it's understandable if some see his pipes as the weak link in the Witchery ensemble. But this is a minor complaint. On this, the band's third full-length (not counting an EP and a disc that retroverts to the Satanic Slaughter salad days of bandleader Ztephan Dark), Witchery takes the aggression of the earliest Slayer and Metallica discs to new levels while adding the songwriting abilities that both of those acts would find later. There's nothing watered down about Symphony for the Devil, except for the tears of joy from rivetheads who have been looking for a disc this satisfying for a decade.

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