Spiritual Warfare

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Despite their use of corpse paint and their occult-obsessed image, Bewitched were never a full-fledged black metal band -- certainly not in the way that Gorgoroth, Dark Funeral, and Marduk are full-fledged black metal bands. Instead, their focus has been a very '80s-minded thrash metal/speed metal attack that often incorporates elements of black metal and, to a lesser degree, death metal -- and they continue down that fiery path with enjoyable, if derivative, results on Spiritual Warfare. Those '80s influences are impossible to miss on this 45-minute CD. Venom, Motörhead, Exciter, Judas Priest (one of the power metal bands that did a lot to pave the way for thrash metal and speed metal), and early Metallica are obvious influences, but while thrash metal and speed metal are the album's dominant ingredients, black metal elements are inserted frequently and are done so in an appealing way; call it blackened thrash, if you will. The vast majority of the vocals on Spiritual Warfare are clean vocals rather than extreme vocals, and even when a black metal rasp or a death metal-ish growl is inserted, the lyrics are still easy to understand -- which is quite a contrast to all the black metal and death metal singers who render lyrics either difficult or impossible to understand. Spiritual Warfare is forceful and intense, but it is also melodic; for all their aggression, Bewitched never engage in brute force for the sake of brute force. No one will accuse Spiritual Warfare of being groundbreaking or attempting to reinvent the wheel, but it is an engaging and solid example of the Swedish headbangers' ability to bring black metal and death metal elements to their thrash metal/speed metal foundation.

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