Archive for January, 2014

Witching Hour – Witching Hour (self-titled) CD Review

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , on January 30, 2014 by novametalreview

Occasionally we meet and discover someone very interesting or talented, and I when I first met Tony Leicht I thought I had him pegged ‘simply’ as the expert craftsman behind Oktober Guitars (http://www.oktoberguitars.com/), however, there’s more to this chap that just a keen hand with a fret saw… But, before I go on, do check out Oktober’s range of guitars and basses; both their standard product ranges and custom work are wonderful instruments – the standard instruments are amazing value for money, and their custom work is off the scale. Ok, enough of the free advertising!

So, it turns out that Tony is also a guitarist in his own right, and when he sent me a message asking for my address so he could send me a copy of his ‘new’ CD I was rightly intrigued. A day or so later I found a package containing “Witching Hour”, which listed 11 tracks, with titles including “Ghastly Gruesome”, “All Chopped Up (With No Place To Go)” and “Dancing In The Graveyard”. Basically we’ve got Halloween (the holiday, not the band…) colliding with a long list of horror movies, all topped off with a healthy sprinkling of Alice Cooper-esq theater.

The opening track is simply an atmospheric intro piece with a disembodied voice giving us a bit of scare and mood, but it sets the scene very nicely for “Ghastly Gruesome” and immediately you get the vibe – what we have here is very classic NWOBHM feel, but with just enough polish to bring it current.

The band comprises Tony on guitar, Michael Leveau on vocals, Darren Denenberg bass and Scott Westbrook on drums, and aside from Tony, the rest of the band are new names to me I believe, but immediately everything is tight and polished. Vocally I am drawn to a comparison involving a laid-back Ozzy Osbourne, but that is only part of the story, and while we may not be dealing with anything ground breaking, everything just works. The guitar work is sharp, and I’m a big fan of the guitar sound captured here. The guitar solo on ‘Ghastly’ is a nice piece of work, and throughout the remaining tracks each solo sits very tastefully into the song. Equally bass and drums sit perfectly together, and I would be doing the record a disservice if I didn’t complement the overall production job – very nice.

Moving on we come to “Sometimes They Come Back”, which draws you in with an impossible to ignore, toe-tapping, head-nodding riff, which ultimately grabs you as the main chorus theme. This is one of the longer tracks on the CD, clocking in at 6 minutes 7 seconds, but is nicely broken up by an extended middle-eight section, leading to another tasteful solo.

Now I’m going to save you the play-by-play and leave that to you, the listener (you are going to buy a copy, eh?), but I must mention “Letters From The Inside” – that damn riff got inside my head and I couldn’t get it out for several days. I’d have to say the exact same about “Dancing In The Graveyard”… The CD closes with “Coming Of The One”, again another killer chorus, complete with another brain worm – once it’s in your head you can’t get it out.

Generally this is a very positive review and really that is well deserved. If there is any small negative to offer, it would be that there is a certain hint of sameness about a few of the songs here – they all run around the 5 to 6 minutes mark in length, the majority have a mid-paced stomp and some of the vocal melodies seem to repeat, but this is really splitting hairs. One piece of information I should add at this point… this entire CD was recorded from start to finish in 2 days flat! Most bands would struggle to get a 3- or 4-song demo laid down in that time, so this puts my small complaints into very soft focus.

To close, if you are a NWOBHM and/or a horror movie fan then the songs/themes here should certainly appeal, but more, this is a very solid heavy rock outing. I don’t think the intent was world domination, but more like a bit of fun that turned out way better than perhaps the ingredients on paper looked likely to result in. For me every time one of the tracks here sneaks into my iTunes playlist, I immediately find myself knocking off shuffle mode and playing the entire CD end-to-end. I’m a big fan of independent releases like this – great songs, tight musicianship and sharp production, all without the pretention that a lot of name bands drag around. RECOMMENDED! My score 8/10.

– Neil Waterman

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