Album Review – Witches Coven / World on Fire (2022)

A Stoner Rock and Metal lone wolf highlights the illnesses that doom today’s society in his debut opus, paying homage to the early sounds of 60’s and 70’s rock.

Conjured by Imran Manaff (aka Azrael, the multi-talented vocalist and instrumentalist of Singaporean one-man Black Metal band Funeral Hearse) in 2020 during the Covid-19 global pandemic, the newborn Stoner Rock and Metal beast that goes by the name of Witches Coven is set to release the project’s debut opus, entitled World on Fire, paying homage to the early sounds of 60’s and 70’s rock the likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Cactus infused with elements of Japan’s Church of Misery and Sweden’s Monolord. Produced by Imran himself, recorded at Hellblaze Studio, and mixed and mastered by Sonicmonk, all embraced by the sinister cover art by Pedro Rey, World on Fire showcases seven original songs loosely inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s infamous poem Howl while highlighting the illnesses that doom today’s society.

Raw, dirty guitars and sluggish beats ignite the opening tune Reason to Believe, evolving into a Stoner and Doom Metal feast the likes of old school Black Sabbath with Imran also firing his raspy vocals to make things even more infernal, whereas featuring excerpt from Consumption & Consumerism by Joseph Patrick, Shackles of Desire is even more demonic and grim. Put differently, it’s one of those Doom Metal compositions perfect for darkening the skies where Imran is ready to crush our souls with his riffage and beats. And Imran keeps hammering his sonic weapons and delivering ass-kicking Stoner Rock and Metal for our total delight in Waiting for Time, feeling like Imran is simply jamming with himself, sounding very organic and thrilling form start to finish.

Then drinking once again from the same obscure fountain of bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram and Celtic Frost, it’s time for the dirtier-than-hell tune Blinded by Lights, with the inebriate vociferations by Imran walking hand in hand with his wicked riffs and rumbling bass lines; and let’s keep banging our heads like true bastards to the sound of Falling Through, another Sludge Metal extravaganza by Imran and his Witches Coven that will please all lovers of the most damned side of music. Imran shows no mercy for our necks and souls in Blurring the Lines, with his low-tuned bass jabs and sharp, crude riffs generating a reverberating vibe that penetrates deep inside our minds, and last but not least, Imran’s menacing bass returns in full force in Dawn of the Morning Star, a song that will block all light coming from the sun, therefore leaving us in pitch black darkness with the cryptic vocalizations by Imran sounding demented and hopeless until the very end.

The unstoppable Imran Manaff and his Witches Coven are waiting to darken our hearts and minds on the official Facebook page for Funeral Hearse (simply because Witches Coven doesn’t have its own specific page, or at least not yet, and because we can consider both bands as Imran’s alter-egos), and if you want to show your support to such hardworking and skillful lone wolf, you can purchase a copy of the excellent World on Fire from the Spy Satellite Records’ BandCamp page. May the hands of doom touch your soul through the infernal and piercing music blasted by Witches Coven, and may the energy and mystery of 60’s and 70’s rock and metal music keep flowing in the air for centuries to come thanks to awesome musicians from the independent scene such as Imran, who will surely bring forward more of his wicked music in the nearby future with both his Funeral Hearse and Witches Coven.

Best moments of the album: Reason to Believe and Blinded by Lights.

Worst moments of the album: Falling Through.

Released in 2022 Spy Satellite Records

Track listing
1. Reason to Believe 8:11
2. Shackles of Desire 8:15
3. Waiting for Time 6:25
4. Blinded by Lights 4:45
5. Falling Through 6:41
6. Blurring the Lines 8:26
7. Dawn of the Morning Star 7:56

Band members
Imran Manaff – vocals, guitars, bass, synth, drums programming

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