Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Acid Witch - Rot Among Us (2022)

Acid Witch has evolved into what must easily be one of my go-to Halloween bands and sounds. Sure, the aesthetics and influence were always present from their debut, Witchtanic Hallucinations, with its crushing, raw psychedelic doom, but as they've gone on patiently creating new content across the last 15 years, they've developed into a much more varied, progressive style, but without abandoning the down to earth, everyman production values and campy horror inspirations. Slasher Dave has been quite busy with his solo synthesizer/score work, pumping out some really great albums like Halloween Howls, Frights and The Jack-O-Lantern Murders, and I suspect a lot of that actually turns around and informs the direction that Acid Witch takes, but it's also why this material feels so fresh and original.

Evil Sound Screamers was quite an involved, trance-inducing slab of spooks and grooves, but Rot Among Us takes us even a little further than that. You don't really know what to expect with their newer material, because they no longer just settle for the crushing stoner haze of their first two full-lengths. Each of their cuts is like a weird narrative of their own unique horror cosmic, from the Carpenter-like synths that support the guitars and impish chants in "Gather Each Witch" to the chumpy chug and take of the title track, with its goofy and endearing vocals that adorn the more melancholic, melodic riffs. You still have some of those stock, swaggering stoner blues grooves in places like "The Sleeper", but they never bore you to death with anything that even hinges on predictable, they'll churn into a more thrashing riff, or slip in some minor instrumentation like cute little synth tone when you don't quite expect it.

All the while they can still kick out the deeper, bolder rasps, screams or growls, or the bigger riff, but they save these for specific moments where they'll have an impact. They just like to play around with your expectations first, like the antagonist of some cheesy B-horror film, and it makes for a really fun time, and an album that can appeal both to the horror/exploitation hesher and stoner rock fan alike, without taking itself too seriously. Combine this with that earthen, natural feel to the instruments, like they're giving a clean, personal performance of this in your basement while you smoke a bag and stare at all your posters under a black light, and there's really just nothing else quite like Acid Witch. They are their own entity, on their own terms, and the albums just keep getting incrementally better with each progression. This is also my favorite of Shagrat's album covers for them yet, how cool is it to have an artist like that in-house?

Verdict: Win [8.25/10]


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