The Nashville based All Them Witches fuses together psychedelic stoner rock, cosmic blues and poetic wanderings on their newest record, ATW. The four piece (drummer Robby Staebler, vocalist, bassist, and guitarist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, and keyboardist Jonathan Draper) have been at this since 2012 but ATW is a breakthrough for the outfit.
Opening with the most dada-centric/oddest offering “Fishbelly 86 Onions” has a crisp snapping snare leading the way as repetitive riffs blare out around random lyrical breaks, while not great; it clues the listener in that this will not be a typical ride. A sixties scuzz rock influence flows throughout as an organ break spices things up on the opener before a more restrained “Workhouse” improves the lyrical output and flows like thick swampy waters.
The band draws different comparisons from track to track. “1st vs. 2nd” recalls acts like The Black Angels as the group heavily drones on progressing steadily through a horror film atmospheric, closing with feedback, beeping and an industrial hum while “Half-Tongue” is more relaxed and groove-based, recalling The Black Keys. Album closer “Rob’s Dream” allows a Pink Floyd space vibe to float in while “HTJC” also has plenty of psych rock elements but plods along in a duller fashion.
Some of the songs do suffer from a loss of steam and repetitiveness, most noticeably “Diamond” which chugs with a spooky vibe but never fully comes together, however, the records’ highlight “Harvest Feast” makes it easy to forget any stumbles.
The standout number starts with a slow blues movement before feedback and descending chords arrive, but it is the elongated radiant jam swirling out of the standard opening which elevates the whole album. The sparkling guitar lines, loose bass notes and searching drums are hypnotic as the song pushes over the ten-minute mark evoking some of the best Grateful Dead passages while feeling bright, alive and fresh.
“Harvest Feast” alone is worth the price of admission but ATW as a whole proves All Them Witches are well positioned with their mix of tripped out blues, soaring beauty and creepy desert rock undercurrents.