Witchsorrow's sophomore album will be ripe for picking come the end of May. This is exciting news for doom heads. But what's that you say, the timing could be better? The British trio's Sabbath/Vitus morbido-doom doesn't really make for a summer record, right? Those who think that crestfallen pessimism and slo-mo riff 'n' dirge was not written for June/July has never experienced the aching pessimism of British Summertime. Shit, what with the endless rain, the traffic, hayfever, wasps, the Olympics, there's not really a whole lot to celebrate. When we caught up with Witchsorrow when they supported Electric Wizard on last month's boobs-and-dope-a-thon ritual in London, they gave us run down of what to expect on the new one. More on their anti-hope doom creed once the release date nears.
Witchsorrow are Necroskull (Vocals/Guitar), Emily Witch (Bass), and David Wilbrahammer (Drums).
Preview the title track below God Curse Us by WitchsorrowDoom What can you tell us, basic hard facts, about the album? Necroskull: It’s going to be called God Curse Us, which is the name of one of the tracks on the album, it’s just under an hour long, it has seven songs on it and they’re all really heavy. Emily Witch: Apart from one—one’s got piano on it. Necroskull: Yeah, it’s like an interlude.
Who plays the piano? Emily Witch: Me! How many chords do I play on it, about three. It was made up on the morning of recording. Necroskull: Yeah, we said that we wanted to do an interlude type of thing, the producer went for lunch and by the time he came back we had written it. We recorded the basic track and he added all the bells and whistles to it, we put the piano on it—but he suggested sticking funny noises on it… It sounds really creepy and haunting. It reminds me of that music that Jimmy Page did for that Aleister Crowley movie. It’s a bit like that.
You don’t overwork the arrangements—is it the same this time round? Is there still that space? Necroskull: It’s between the notes! I think part of it comes from loving a band like Reverend Bizarre or someone like that, where they’ll have one chord and just leave it hanging, and it’s not just playing the chord but there’s a really slow riff playing in that space over one chord just going baaaaaarrrghhhh. And there’s also the fact that I don’t like fiddling around with pedals, or doodling around. Emily Witch: Yeah, I’m not like Geezer Butler on the bass; I’m very much more rigid than that. Necroskull: And I really hate drummers who drum too much. David Wilbrahammer: Yeah, it adds to the heaviness just to have the riff.
That puts the pressure on all the other variables—the tone, etc. How did you record it? Necroskull: It was all recorded to a computer. But a lot of it was live, with bass and guitar. There was none of that cheating, dropping in parts. It wasn’t like that bit on Some Kind Of Monster, where Lars and Bob Rock are going through the tracks and Lars will say, “Oh, I really like that bit” and Bob Rock just copies it and puts it somewhere else in the song. That’s really shit. We didn’t fiddle with it in Pro Tools.
You recorded at Foel Studios in Wales with Chris Fielding, and he has a heap of great amps—what did you use? Necroskull: I used his Sunn amp, his Matamp, and I used my Laney head. I’ve got a really old Laney from the 70s, but it’s really, really shop-happy so I can’t use it. It’s one of the Klipp amps, but it has failed so many times, at bad times, like on stage and stuff, that I need to take it to Laney and get one of their engineers to give it a proper once-over. I have been repairing it and it’ll be fine for a few months before it’ll just fuck up again. Emily Witch: This time round we used a lot of our own gear. The last time round we’d had taken it on tour, most of it was broke. We’re much happier using our own gear. Necroskull: I dropped my guitar on the first take of the first song and broke it. I had to use Chris’ guitar. Our drummer borrowed their drumkit. Emily Witch: He borrowed one of Level 42’s heads. Haha! Necroskull: Yeah, I used a Level 42 guitar head.
Did you have the album down pat before entering the studio? Necroskull: There were still loads of ends that needed doing. Because we had only played one of the songs live before we recorded—we wrote that ages ago—and we booked the studio last April, went in during October, but that was all we had written before booking it, just that one song. We didn’t start writing it until July. We finished playing gigs, said that we were not playing more, anything we’d get offered we’d say no. [By October] We had all the songs together and ready but there was still some stuff in the studio that were like, “meh, too long.” Emily Witch: I think song-wise they were pretty much there. Vocally, definitely, that wasn’t. Necroskull: I didn’t write any lyrics before we went in. Well, there was one that we had played live, and one other, but I had to write four lots of vocals once we’d went in. I just hadn’t done it. Ten minutes before the vocal takes were recorded I was sat in the kitchen just going, “FUCK…. OFF!”
Is that not kind of underprepared, having no lyrics? David Wilbrahammer: The lyrics always come last. It’s just a question of waiting for the pressure to actually do it, ‘cos when you’ve got loads of time you just think about how you’ve got all this time—I think the pressure actually helps you. Necroskull: It made us think [with recording approaching] that we have to keep writing, we have to keep rehearsing, and that was good. Emily Witch: It makes it quite coherent because it was all written in a short space of time, and all very much focused on being something that was very much for the album. Last time, it was just a case of these were the songs we had, let’s put them all together and then there’ll be an album at the end of it. There’s a lot more focus.
You’ve said you never wanted to reinvent your sound, but have you expanded on it a bit? Necroskull: I think we’ve narrowed our palette, if anything. We’ve got rid of some of the more Celtic Frost moments that were on the first album. We haven’t done that; every song is doom, all the way through—doom, doom doom. Emily Witch: There are some heavy metal elements too, like there is a faster song that’s influenced by Judas Priest… Necroskull: …Accept and Maiden, yeah.
What is Chris like to work with as a producer? Necroskull: He’s awesome. He’s brilliant, because the thing is, because he is so into doom, if you start playing an idea he’ll know what you’re actually getting at, what you’re thinking, so he knows exactly what to do with microphones and effects, and doing his thing ‘til you get what you want. That was really cool. And he was always on-hand with a suggestion. David Wilbrahammer: He’s just got an ear for it, things that we would never notice in a million years he will. You just explain to him what you want: you want a cave reverb and that’s it. Emily Witch: Or if you want something that sounds like such-and-such… Necroskull: Yeah, like a particular reverb from the Primordial album. Could we have the reverb that Primordial had? And we’d get that same setting. That was nice. But he knows his way around the studio and because he knows the music so well, he knows exactly what bit of kit will help you out.
How did the isolation help you? Did it make a big difference recording in rural Wales compared to London? Necroskull: I would never do that [London] ‘cos it’d be shit. In Wales, you’re totally focused on playing your guitar. There is nothing to do apart from record music, which is really cool. And, I think the other thing is, having that kind of American Werewolf in London vibe—‘cos it is kinda creepy there at night—just adds to it, you feel a little bit small, getting swallowed up by all this countryside, valleys. David Wilbrahammer: Because you are just living there and recording, the days just blend into one. Everyday just feels like you are still in the same mindset. Necroskull: You do everything around the recording, dinner, etc. Everything else rotates around the recording, the work you are doing. Emily Witch: I think everything that has been recorded there has got that vibe. We found ourselves listening to some albums that all been recorded there and they kind of fall into place. Necroskull: I don’t think Cerebral Bore did! Emily Witch: No! But Primordial, Moss, Electric Wizard…
**God Curse Us is out 28 May through Rise Above** **Poke Witchsorrow on Facebook HERE**