Could Burning Witches be the next all-girl band to cast a spell on the HRH community? This bubbling cauldron of molten metal suggests the Swiss quintet are halfway there with lead singer Seraina – labelled the female Rob Halford – concocting a mindblowing vocal brew. From the outset it’s clear Burning Witches aren’t interested in half measures and if 2019’s live shows measure up to the band’s intoxicating Nuclear Blast debut then expect some kind of riff-laden sorcery in the air.
Taking her lead from inspirational label mate and metal queen Doro Pesch – as much as Judas Priest’s iconic frontman – Seraina looks and sounds like the real deal. Seething opener The Witch Circle sets an appropriately terrifying tone and the titanic title track confirms the new kids on the metal block are deadly serious about their assault on the senses.
Of course, one glance at Hexenhammer’s pre-release publicity confirmed Burning Witches could comfortably rely on style over substance but the carefully fashioned looks are more than matched by the relentlessly brutal hooks. First impressions count – and will surely count in this flashy band’s favour – but it’s the music that really matters. And Burning Witches make terrifying trad metal in the finest tradition of the genre.
Don’t Cry My Tears strips back the bombast and proves Seraina can more than handle a soulful ballad. And if twin guitar attack Romana and Sonia take a breather on one of Hexenhammer’s lighter moments then elsewhere the lightning duo are the driving force behind a delightfully old school blast from metal’s glorious past.
The astute decision to sign off with a bullish cover of Dio’s timeless Holy Diver will surely boost Burning Witches’ credentials and go some way towards persuading the critics that this is a band that’s built to last. If it’s a stretch to describe Hexenhammer as spellbinding then there are frequent moments of pure metal magic.
Burning Witches – Hexenhammer is out now on Nuclear Blast.