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Return Of The Witchfinder

Germany Country of Origin: Germany

Return Of The Witchfinder
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: April 5th, 2024
Genre: Heavy
1. The Covenant
2. Darkest Rites
3. Hailstorm And Tempest
4. The Thief's Candle
5. Return Of The Witchfinder
6. Offerings To Baalberith
7. Azrael
8. Up In The Castle
9. The Baleful Baron
10. Synodus Horrenda



Review by Vladimir on April 10, 2024.

Even though I have been aware of the German heavy metal band Attic and their status as one of the spiritual successors to King Diamond and Mercyful Fate alongside Portrait and Them, I have sadly never had the chance to properly check out the band even though I am a huge fan of both Mercyful Fate and King Diamond. For quite some time, I was so busy with Portrait's discography that I just made a huge mistake by overlooking Attic entirely. However, I am willing to fix that mistake by taking a look at their recently released third full-length album Return Of The Witchfinder. The album has been out for some time now, and now with much anticipation and excitement, I have decided to willingly enter the dark age world of Attic, where witches burn and zealots gather, to witness the return of the witchfinder.

From the very get-go, whispers and haunting tales set the mood of the album, in a faithful ghostly fashion, followed by spooky and occult heavy metal that immediately screams out in pure King Diamond/Mercyful Fate style. Heavy banging guitar riffs, superb melodies, spectacular solos, relentless drumming and King Diamond styled vocals of Meister Cagliostro, all dominate throughout the entire album, while leaving open space to include other interesting bits like the surprising blast beats on the tracks 'Hailstorm And Tempest' and 'Synodus Horrenda', clean guitar sections and horrific organ keyboards. While being completely immersed in the album, you will feel that it has a powerful and fluent progression as it goes from one track to another, with a strong emphasis on the storytelling aspect with concepts that include demons, rituals, witch burning and other occult horror themes. The horror elements contribute a lot to the atmospheric side of Attic's music, creating an aura that will definitely evoke images of these horrific events in your head as you just let yourself go. It's got such a powerful transition between tracks, that once it reaches the conclusion with the final song 'Synodus Horrenda', it simply gives you this sense of epic closure where you are satisfied with the journey you just embraced.

The songwriting is undoubtedly dynamic all the way through and each song is filled with plenty of progression, providing a very fun rollercoaster of ideas in this thrillride. With everything this album has to offer, from the music to the stories, as well as the awesome choruses, it is simply impossible to not be engaged from start to finish, especially since the album has such a strong mesmerizing quality to it. These fun inclusions such as blast beats and borderline black metal moments have proven to be incredibly effective by expanding the band's sound and keeping you constantly on edge. Attic is just unmistakable in their game because they just continue being a great successor to Mercyful Fate/King Diamond's style and sound, checking all the marks that this band satisfies the requirements. Whether you prefer Attic over Portrait, or the other way around, you just can't deny that both bands manage to take all the best elements of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, and then effectively incorporate them in their albums, while both of them still remain in their own unique realm. The cover art by Daniel Valeriani in my opinion perfectly conveys the essence of the album in its pure form, giving this horrific depiction a lot of depth and style that it just captures every bit of Attic's storytelling through music. On the final note, the production of this album is also pretty great and I really like the sound, especially since it's so clean and pristine while still maintaining that level of heaviness in the music.

From what I have come to expect from the Return Of The Witchfinder, I have to say that this is indeed a magnificent album that checks all the marks for me. To put it shortly, it's an "all killer no filler" album with lots of great stuff to be found, and not a desperate and lazy rip-off attempt of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. It is definitely a faithful spiritual successor to both bands, but also a great exemplary album on its own. Attic has without a doubt nailed this one, and I am very pleased with the end result.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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Review by Michael on April 7, 2024.

A gloomy string instrument introduction lets us surmise that nothing good is going to happen on The Return Of The WitchfinderAttic's long-awaited third full-length album. Well, again the Germans tell us a nice horror story of witches, black masses, occultism and of course the Holy Inquisition who is going to make sure that all will go the right way up in flames. Had its predecessor Sanctimonious a very compact lyrical concept, the stories here are not that stringent and belong together directly. So much for the story changes that come up with the witchfinder.

Musically you can also see a huge step forward the guys in Attic have made during the last few years. In general the classic heavy metal influences are clear to hear but here and there some more Iron Maiden-like twin guitars have crept into the songs and the technical finesse became much more impressive. Of course their main influence is still Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, especially when it comes to Meister Cagliostros vocals but in some cases there is something different in the songs compared to their earlier works. Take a song like 'Hailstorm And Tempest' – the guitars are sometimes super heavy and brutal and if they were tuned down a little bit lower you could almost talk about some death or black metal riffs in there. Also the drumming is much more powerful and aggressive so you can find a certain freshness and new approach in their music. With the title track Attic really goes back to their roots – this is pure Meryful Fate worship. The guitars sound really powerful and aggressive and the production sounds a lot like going back to the 80s. I guess that the infernal duo Denner and Sherman couldn't have done it better than they do here. But hold on a second – the guitar solo in the middle, this is Iron Maiden, isn't it? These galloping riffs everybody likes are fantastic and I dare to say that “The Return Of The Witchfinder” is one of the best tracks they ever have written together with the rousing 'Offerings To Baalberith' which obviously refers to some classical compositions disguised in a metal dress. When mentioning Iron Maiden, 'The Baleful Baron' also comes along with some more influences of the Brits, only here and there but you can clearly hear them lurking in the shadows of the witchfinders dark dungeon together with some more progressive experiments when it comes to the guitar work. Apart from the compositional progression the band has experienced in the last couple of years, Meister Cagliostros skill to tell stories also has made a huge step forward. You always have the feeling that he is really telling some scary horror stories in the songs, the way he pronounces his lines and the highs and lows in his voice. Also his range is much wider than it was on the already very ambitious debut The Invocation from 2012 (damn, time flies, does this album is already 12 years old???).

But one little point of criticism is to mention on the album, too. Of course this is (like every review) very subjective but with the 'Thief's Candle' they did a very insignificant song, too. Here you always wait for something to happen but nothing ever comes. It is a little bit like driving with an unreleased handbrake the whole time, musically maybe it can be compared to Death Angel's “Relentless Retribution” where nothing really exciting happened the whole 57 minutes. Well, fortunately we have only one song that slopes behind from the rest – and let me assure you –the rest is really great. So if Mercyful Fate and/or King Diamond won't get anything done again in 24, this is a fantastic replacement for them.

Rating: 8.7 out of 10 burning witches

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