WITCH RIPPER “The Flight After The Fall”

By Dr. Abner Mality

This has got to be the cleanest sounding sludge metal I’ve ever clapped ears on. With a name like WITCH RIPPER and the sludge metal label tossed on it by the PR company, I was expecting this album to wade through an ocean of ELECTRIC WIZARD or CONAN riffs. Whatever “sludge” is present here is pretty diluted. A more truthful description of WITCH RIPPER would be modern progressive metal in the vein of BARONESS or MASTODON.

Speaking of BARONESS, remember all those slightly southern-fried prog metal albums of the early 2000’s that were festooned with Pre-Raphaelite art by John Dyer Baizely or something similar? That’s what WITCH RIPPER are aiming for and they’ve got the cover art to prove it. Are the early 2000’s already a retro thing? God forbid! Anyway, once this album is correctly identified, it becomes easier to deal with. “The Flight After The Fall” is a mediocre sludge album, but a pretty good prog metal effort, with some interesting melodies and 70’s influences.

The songs are fairly long and in true prog fashion, the album ends with a 16 minute plus behemoth. It’s very much in the BARONESS/KYLESA/ASG vein, with both clean and raw vocals and guitar sounds to match. The heaviness is here, but it’s not the drop-dead crushing weight of true sludge. But the song structures are quite interesting, the vocal melodies are right out of 70’s prog and arena rock and there’s a kind of “cosmic” feel that really works. The album starts to show its best with “The Obsidian Forge”, which is just a really cool song that flows so well from riff to riff and melody to melody. It builds to an impressive climax and is a fine example of modern progressive metal. “Icarus Equation” follows in a similar fashion, although not quite as engulfing.

That leaves the monster ending track “Everything In Retrograde, Parts I & 2”. Synth and clean guitar play a much bigger part here and the second half of the song is quite calm and rather on the wimpy side. But it works its way to a logically cosmic conclusion to this concept album, which is something to  do with a mad scientist trying to save his frozen wife or somesuch. 

Once you you overcome the gross mislabelling of the band as sludge metal, you can find some things to enjoy about WITCH RIPPER if you’re into 21st century progressive metal.