New Band Of The Week: King Witch

King Witch
King Witch

Sounds Like:
Big doom riffs, powerhouse vocals and serious witchy vibes

For Fans Of:
Black Sabbath, Orange Goblin, Avatarium

Check Out:
Beneath The Waves

When it really comes down to it, persistence is everything in the heavy metal world. A few years ago, guitarist Jamie Gilchrist and vocalist Laura Donnelly were steadily making waves with their balls-out old-school crew Firebrand Super Rock. Fortune was ultimately not in their favour, though, and the Scottish band fizzled out in 2014, leaving behind two well-received studio albums and countless gigs. Undeterred, the duo have assembled a new line-up and re-emerged as King Witch: a heavier, doomier and more musically adventurous affair than their previous efforts, and one that is already garnering a shit-ton of effusive praise for excellent debut album, Under The Mountain.

“I think when our old band reached its natural conclusion, part of the reason was the wish to make music without necessarily being in ‘classic metal’ mode all the time,” notes Jamie. “There’s still obviously a lot of that in there, but with King Witch it feels like we have scope to really write anything we want.”

“We never had any preconceptions about how we wanted to sound,” says Laura. “We just wanted to play music we enjoyed. I think toward the end of Firebrand, the songs were getting a bit darker and I guess that came with us… but with a new lease of life.”

With a sound that seems to draw from the early, mid-tempo doom metal of Candlemass and Trouble, but with numerous idiosyncratic and noticeably psychedelic detours along the way, the songs on Under The Mountain brim with dark atmosphere, malevolent melodrama and more than a hint of otherworldly menace. According to Laura, it all comes from a love of the great outdoors… oh, and horror movies, obviously. This is metal after all.

“Some of my lyrical inspiration comes from visiting the North of Scotland, which has some of the most beautiful mountainous scenery in the world,” she explains. “It’s steeped in history, mythology and mystery. It’s a fantastic place for musical inspiration. But I tend to write about the darker side of humanity or the strange and occult. I find human behaviour really interesting, too, and I’m a massive fan of occult horror. For instance, [our song] Carnal Sacrifice is loosely based on the Hammer Horror film To The Devil A Daughter, which I love!”

With glowing reviews for their debut now rolling in, King Witch seem collectively taken aback by how well everything seems to be going so far. Both Laura and Jamie attribute much of their currently blazing momentum to the chemistry between them and their new bandmates, drummer Lyle Brown and bassist Joe Turner. From slow-motion grind and rampaging rock to lysergic blues balladry (see the gorgeous Ancients for a stellar example of the latter), Under The Mountain covers all thunderous bases, and then some.

“The album is pretty varied so I think there is a little something in there for all lovers of the mighty riff,” offers Laura with a grin. “I think the worst thing someone said [in one of the album’s reviews] so far was that they thought my voice was too abrasive and powerful to be on a doomy album. I think they were a lover of the more demure style of female singing. Well, you can’t please everyone. I like it loud and in your face!” As do we, Laura.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.