In a genre like stoner-rock, size is completely relative. Queens Of The Stone Age and, to an extent, Clutch might buck that trend, but even the biggest acts in those scenes are unlikely to receive a great deal of attention beyond their own established catchment areas. Just take bands like Kyuss or Sleep, both often considered among the most influential bands in the genre, but in the grand scheme of every other act in the world, neither are all that huge. That’s why when a band like All Them Witches comes around, it’s a bit surreal to learn they’re among the bigger bands, even though their name holds considerably less weight at face value than either of the aforementioned acts. Still, it’s not as if those assertions are totally unfounded; the fact they’re on the cusp of their fifth album speaks for itself.
And even on the basis of sheer fascination itself, it’s easy to see how All Them Witches have accumulated the sort of longevity they have, because ATW is the sort of hazy, psychedelic southern rock that’s borderline interpretive in its winding, open-ended passages, but that’s part of its enrapturing nature. That can be both a blessing and a curse though, and while All Them Witches prove to be particularly deft at navigating that line, it’s not hard to zone out on a track like Harvest Feast which can’t convincingly fill its almost-eleven-minute runtime with worthwhile material.
To a degree though, it’s in the long, deliberate pieces that All Them Witches are able to cultivate their most effective sound, relying on sizzling, blackened blues guitars stretched to taut lengths to carry these tracks, while a roiling sense of propulsion and Charles Michael Parks Jr’s seared rasp give the likes of Fishbelly 86 Onions and 1st Vs. 2nd their sense of drive, only to be ripped down to make way for the gutter-sludge of Diamond. For as surprising as production credits from Dave Cobb may be, All Them Witches’ aims are ultimately rooted in expanding and deconstructing the tropes of Americana in ways not too dissimilar to an act like Sturgill Simpson, and given the crushing weight of it all that this album can easily break out at will, the results say a lot about how much it works.
And it’s definitely on the cusp of greatness at that, though maybe a bit too meandering in spots to really get there. That in itself isn’t a huge issue though, especially for a band like this for whom the heavy, heady atmosphere they create is easily their greatest selling point. In terms of stoner-rock today, there’s no one doing quite as much as All Them Witches in that regard, and the fact they’re continue to build and grow five albums in is a testament to the creativity on show here.
For fans of: Kyuss, Graveyard, Truckfighters
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘ATW’ by All Them Witches is released on 28th September on New West Records.