Witchfyre – Grimorium Verum (2018) REVIEW

At first glance you could almost be sure that Spanish metal upstarts Witchfyre are going to be an average blackened thrash metal band yet their first full-length ‘Grimorium Verum’ is an inspired entry into the righteous arena of epic heavy/speed metal that is so pristine in it’s old school traditional heavy metal flair you’ll think it was a remastered mid-80’s classic. Formed in 2011 with past and present members of depressive extreme metal band Dantalion as well as current Iron Hunter vocalist Emi Ramírez, who proves his charismatic falsetto skills worthy of Witchfyre‘s over-the-top 80’s power metal sound. Though records in this style are often meticulously crafted and driven by overbearing concept or theme, ‘Grimorium Verum’ has a confidence, a heavy metal swagger, that finds Witchfyre as capable of rousing a pub as they would be lighting up a festival.

Hailing from the beautiful northwestern coast of Spain in Galicia, this speed metal project are in good company with a small and steady new wave of old school epic heavy metal that wear their love for Mercyful Fate and Judas Priest on their sleeves. Contemporary with Swedes Candle, Trial and Portrait but with perhaps more of their own speed metal style, Witchfyre don’t necessarily reinvent or modernize early 80’s power/speed metal but attack it with the passion and energy of early Enforcer or In SolitudeRamírez is a fantastic vocalist, full stop. He not only has impressive range but a sense for grit, feeling and really matches the drama of each composition with a close study of 80’s heavy/power metal vocalists. His performances are as vital to each listen as their post-NWOBHM speed metal guitar riffs that just scream of the mid-’84 to early ’86 era where power metal’s heaviest hitters first arrived.

From my perspective the biggest selling point for ‘Grimorium Verum’ is that Witchfyre are approaching a self-serious,  moderately campy form of heavy metal and then adding just enough of speed metal’s gravel to avoid being too deadpan in delivery and this helps the album read as confident instead of insincere or pompous. That 60/40 mixture of ‘street’ metal (think Tokyo Blade, Angel Witch, a hint of Riot) and old school epic heavy metal wailing ends up being a really good time. That charismatic ‘ego’ is one of the most important elements of success in conjuring the spirit of classic metal, especially if we are stirring Mercyful Fate‘s legendary cauldron. I feel like most folks were sold as soon as I mentioned Priest and Fate, so I dunno how necessary any more of my rambling is. I’m always looking for heavy metal albums as catchy as Enforcer‘s ‘Diamonds’ but with riffs and ‘roids heavy enough to keep up with peak Helstar and I’d say Witchfyre have just about done it. For preview I’d recommend “Lord of the Underworld” and the King Diamond-esque “Behind the Wall” back to back with “Night Hunter.”

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Artist Witchfyre
Type Album
Released August 8, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Fighter Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Witchfyre on Facebook
Genres
Speed Metal,
Heavy Metal

Dark winds stoke greater flames. 3.75/5.0

 

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