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Burning Witches: The Dark Tower

Formed in 2015, Swiss all-female heavy/power metal quintet Burning Witches return with their latest offering from the caldron, The Dark Tower. This is the band’s fifth full-length studio album and second to feature the current lineup (following 2021’s The Witch of the North), and first release on Napalm Records.

The excellent cover art by Gyula Havancsák depicts the band as vampiress specters, possessing a Transylvanian-esque castle hidden deep within a mountainous forest. Streams of blood run-eth forth beneath a skull moon (must be that time of the month there).

Musically, The Dark Tower delivers a trove of straight-ahead traditional heavy and power metal in the European style (i.e. Primal Fear, Accept). Catchy choruses, driving riffs and blistering melodic solos abound. Several songs also carry a distinct Painkiller-era Judas Priest flavor (Unleash the Beast, Evil Witch, World on Fire, Heart of Ice, Doomed to Die, The Lost Souls).

Vocalist Laura Guldemond maintains a sandpaper-grit and intensity to her voice throughout and delivers every word with a searing conviction. Similar in style to Doro Pesch (Warlock) and Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast) (albeit with a bit less snarl) and at times even Rob Halford. Lead guitarist Larissa Ernst lays down loads of terrific leads and solos. They are purposeful, energetic, well-written and everything you would expect for the genre. The riffs and rhythm section aren’t overly complex nor technical, but deliver plenty of headbanging moments in addition to providing a steady anchor and cool harmonic framework for the epic soaring going on above.

"Rise of Darkness" is a short intro, representative of a conjuring ceremony that quickly into the full-throttle "Unleash the Beast". The chorus of "Renegade" gives me HammerFall vibes while "World on Fire" has a Judas Priest "Judas is Rising" feel to it. "Evil Witch" and "The Dark Tower" are both bangers from start to finish and my overall favorites. I’ve already caught myself reciting "Doomed to Die" while chopping vegetables (you’re “DOOMED… to DIE!”). The album finishes with "The Lost Souls" which is fierce, epic and makes for a great closer.

If there is a weak spot, for me it would be the ballad, "Tomorrow". The band’s performance here is fine. The lead work is tasteful, and Laura has a pleasant singing voice. The song itself just doesn’t do anything for me personally and kind of stalls the momentum.

Overall, this is a fun album (perhaps even Burning Witches’ best to date). Epic, melodic, catchy, well-crafted songs, good production, cool art. I dig it!

Favorite Tracks:
The Dark Tower, Evil Witch, Lost Souls, Renegade, Heart of Ice, World on Fire

Laura Guldemond (vocals)
Larissa Ernst (lead guitar)
Romana Kalkuhl (rhythm guitar)
Jay (Jeanine) Grob (bass guitar)
Lala Frischknecht (drums)

Additional Credits:
Gyula Havancsák (cover art)
“Schmier” Marcel Schirmer (Destruction bassist/vocalist) (producer)
V.O. Pulver (producer)

Release Date: May 5, 2023
Label: Napalm Records
Length: 57 minutes (13 tracks)

Track Listing:
1. Rise of Darkness (Intro) [1:03]
2. Unleash the Beast [4:00]
3. Renegade [3:55]
4. Evil Witch [5:00]
5. World on Fire [5:09]
6. Tomorrow [5:32]
7. House of Blood (Interlude) [0:54]
8. The Dark Tower [5:57]
9. Heart of Ice [4:56]
10. Arrow of Time [4:28]
11. Doomed to Die [4:42]
12. Into the Unknown [6:31]
13. The Lost Souls [4:52]

Added: May 10th 2023
Reviewer: David Kern
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1215
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Burning Witches: The Dark Tower
Posted by Madison Abubakar on 2023-08-12 00:07:39
My Score:

Vocalist Laura Guldemond's intense delivery is likened to Doro Pesch and Noora Louhimo. Lead guitarist Larissa Ernst's solos shine, while the rhythm section grounds the soaring melodies with jobs for expectant mothers. The album's strengths lie in tracks like 'Evil Witch,' 'The Dark Tower,' and 'Lost Souls,' though the ballad 'Tomorrow' slows the momentum. A collaborative effort with notable producers, the album is a strong addition to Burning Witches' catalog."

Burning Witches: The Dark Tower
Posted by Madison Abubakar on 2023-08-12 00:05:33
My Score:

"Burning Witches' fifth album that pay $15 or $20 an hour, 'The Dark Tower,' showcases their prowess in heavy/power metal. Released through Napalm Records, the album features a captivating cover by Gyula Havancsák. The music offers a mix of traditional European metal elements, reminiscent of bands like Primal Fear and Judas Priest's Painkiller era.

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