One Eyed Doll: Witches review

One-Eyed Doll fans rejoice! The wait is over and Kimberly & Junior are back and better than ever with their sixth full length album and first for new label Standby Records entitled Witches- a concept album based around the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and 1693. To help tell the story, many of the lyrics are taken from the actual quotes in the original witch trial documents and being that the album tells a story, it should not be segmented, but rather enjoyed from beginning to end, like a good film such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall or The Who’s Tommy. This may sound hard to believe, but even though Witches was written almost entirely on banjo and mandolin, it somehow manages to be one of their heaviest to date. Even though the album was written almost entirely on banjo and mandolin, it manages to be their heaviest to date. Leave it to One-Eyed Doll to not only make banjo and mandolin cool again, but to make you like it. The band is just Kimberly Freeman on guitars/vocals and Jason Rufus Sewell (aka Junior) on drums and while they fill up the sound in the studio with bass, banjo or whatever else is needed, it is just the two of them, yet somehow their sound is massive and extremely full. Not to mention the fact that it is an experience unlike anything else you may have seen before. In keeping with the Witch theme, opener “Ember” is a wonderfully chaotic cauldron of subversion, delivered with wild abandon. Whereas “Prayer” and “Stillness” are hauntingly beautiful acoustic pieces, centered around Kimberly’s extraordinary vocal abilities, alongside a banjo and mandolin to create a whole new sonic realm of their own devising. By stark contrast, the mass bedlam and eccentric disregard of “Black in the Rye” is more manic than a meth binge, while the exploratory country vibe of “A Rope for Mary” eschews the usual clichés by confounding preconceived notions of what heavy can really be. Elsewhere, the modulated rhythmic shifts in “More Weight” are a mouthwatering musical proposition of the band’s ever changing musical landscape and their desire to carve out their own unique niche. Meanwhile, the muscular grooves and structural dynamics of “Witch Hunt” will further cement their reputation of refusing to be something they’re not. To prove there really isn’t anything this remarkable duo can’t do and do well, “Afflicted” and closer “The Ghosts of Gallows Hill” are mesmerizing hybrids that are equal parts Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil and The Birthday Massacre. Here’s the bottom line- The lovely and beguiling Ms. Freeman is as enchanting as she is talented. If she and partner in crime Junior are guilty of Witchcraft, then we are all hopelessly under her spell and should burn at the stake. Rating: 9 out of 10 -Eric Hunker