Swamp Witch have come a long way from their 2011 EP Gnosis. That album’s fuzz soaked psychedelia showed promise, and the follow up Slithering Bog doubled down on the psychedelic elements. Well, Dead Rituals decided that what they needed was more fuzz. Thick, heavy, slow, driving, drowning fuzz. And I am 100% here for it.
“Petrified in Sewage” opens the album with a wall of fuzz so slow, you feel yourself sinking into it like quicksand. You are becoming sleepy. Thick fuzzy rhythm guitar lays over top of everything like a wormy blanket. Simple but effective lead work slinks in and out of droning chord arpeggios that poke out of the mix with just enough mids to remind you they exist. Your eyes are becoming heavy. Hypnotizing, repetitive riffing leaves you on the very edge of sleep. The slow driving beats reinforce the hypnosis. The bass rears its ugly head, and snake charming riffs drive home the fear. You are sinking, slowly, slowly, into a deep sleep.
“Catacomb Saint” takes you even deeper; the lead guitar becoming more and more prevalent as the psychedelic elements make a strong return. Were there lyrics? Did I hear them? Did they plant a suggestion that will only come into play later? Swimming in the blackened depths, riffs coming faster, lead guitar surfacing as you feel yourself begin to wake. With a blast, the title track brings you fully aware, the faster tempo transforming themes and riffs heard previously into something new, something alive. In this hammering finale, Swamp Witch brings all their power to bear, the ritual unleashed, hell on earth.
It’s hard to find much to say about an album which, at its core, is something to be experienced. This is not a criticism. It’s an album to put on loud, in the dark, and just let it envelop you. Dead Rituals delivers an absolute overdose of doomy sludge, and the best thing to do is buckle in and enjoy the ride. At just under 38 minutes, what might have been overbearing is instead the perfect length. If you like your doom slow and your fuzz saturated, you owe it to yourself to check out Dead Rituals.