Chronique | Witchorious - Witchorious

Pierre Sopor 16 février 2024

Witchorious hails from Chelles, in the Paris suburbs. Those familiar with this area will know, this département is synonymous with ultra-radioactive disused military bases, polluted soils, old derelict mansions and a nightmarish theme park dedicated to a tyrannic mouse... a backdrop conducive to hazy delirium and horrors crawling in the night! The trio formed in 2019 took advantage of the pandemic to transform what was supposed to be just an EP into a self-titled debut album.

While the obvious influences are there, from Black Sabbath to Electric Wizard, Witchorious insist there's no question of stagnating in the past, and the young band also mention Amenra and Mastodon. The result is an ideal heaviness for anguished wanderings, but also a visceral rage that erupts in raging explosions where Antoine Auclair's vocals transform into flayed screams (Sanctuaire), as well as a willingness to talk about psychological suffering and ecological disaster. These more topical and personal themes dust off the traditional occult and psychedelic rituals of the genre, adding a biting edge and a distress that really hits home (the second track, Catharsis, says it all).

Along the way, Witchorious never forget to groove while remaining menacing, or to envelop us in their universe where the occult is still very much present (The Witch, of course). Blood encapsulates everything that makes Witchorious so strong: the sinister heaviness of the genre, irresistible riffs that take us into their hallucinatory swamps and dark dungeons full of medieval torture, tumultuous explosions and a beautiful alchemy between the voices of Antoine and Lucie Gaget, also a bassist, who brings that fantastic colour and a real relief. The two take turns on the vocals, with an effective variety of registers (To the Grave moves away from metal to take on the air of a melancholy eulogy).

With this debut album, Witchorious are initially seductive thanks to their mastery of the codes of the genre. It's well-crafted doom, respectful of a certain set of specifications that always work: horrific atmospheres and acid guitars, the recipe for something that's at once dark, disturbing and full of gothic horrors, but still uplifting, always hits the mark. What really grabs our attention, though, is the soul they inject, the humanity and melancholy we can detect in the psychotropic smoke screens and menacing silhouettes, the way the trio appropriate the genre's figures to convey a message that's up to date, and the desire to add real guts to the carnival junk, the kind you'd painfully pull out of your gut to display. Totally cool.