Burning Witch

Crippled Lucifer

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Oh, the agony: Purveyors of sickening, plodding doom metal will want to search out Burning Witch's Crippled Lucifer, a generally overlooked tar-coated shriek of pain completely in line with the Southern Lord label's modern-takes-on-Black Sabbath philosophies. Formed by Thorr's Hammer guitarist Stephen O'Malley, Burning Witch is the logical musical step between said group and his subsequent projects, noise-drone belchers Sunn O))) and, especially, Khanate, which is carved from the same block of impenetrable granite, so to speak. Crippled Lucifer compiles seven tracks from two separate recording sessions; the first three tracks, from the original release dubbed Rift.Canyon.Dreams, were recorded in 1997, and the final four are from Towers..., laid to tape in 1996 by none other than Steve Albini. Regardless, all of Crippled is from the same, torturous valley of despair: Painfully slow rhythms collide like tectonic plates with droning, feedback-encased guitar riffs and truly heinous screeching from vocalist Edgy 59, all recalling the swamp-doom of Crowbar and Exhorder mixed with some Cathedral-style lunacy and a healthy dose of Eyehategod's flaking eyeball crust. Oh, and heaping handfuls of expired Vicodin, no doubt. Regardless, this extraordinarily noisy, anti-melodic "art" is sure to clear the room, "Sea Hag" and "Stillborn" pushing 15 and 12 minutes respectively, sounding like the soundtrack to depression, bringing to mind images of men trudging along bleary-eyed through a bleak existence of hard drugs, repetitive manual labor, and constant breathing of lung-coating industrial soot. Still, Burning Witch is so conceptually over the top, it must have been conceived and birthed with a sly wink; if not, you're better off tying a plastic bag over your head and just calling it quits. Crippled Lucifer is a minor classic of sorts, and definitely a love-it-or-hate-it affair; doom fans will be riveted to their seats, and everyone else will extract more joy from having their heads wedged in a clogged toilet.

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