Burning Witch – Crippled Lucifer

Burning Witch album cover

I wanted a change of pace, so I decided to review something I can actually think of some proper criticism for.

So, this is the 2008 2-disc reissue of Crippled Lucifer, which basically contains the entire Burning Witch catalogue in a single package. Of course, what that amounts to is two EPs, Towers and Rift.Canyon.Dreams. Unfortunately, I find Burning Witch a little less exciting than I’d like.

The thing is, I know the pedigree of this band, and their well-published connection to the bands Sunn O))), Goatsnake, Khanate, Asva, and others, but to be quite frank, I prefer most of those bands. Khanate for example, have the same instrumental format as Burning Witch, and in many ways I think of Khanate as being the more-interesting continuation of Burning Witch‘s ideals: an experimental doom band with a very unique frontman singer. Except that Burning Witch aren’t all that experimental really. Also, Edgy59 is no Alan Dubin, let’s get that straight right off the bat.

It’s not that I hate Burning Witch, far from it. It’s just that they’re not as enjoyable to me as they should be, on paper. I almost feel like there’s something I’m not getting, and it’s frustrating. And then I change my mind and think that no, it’s not that I’m not getting something, it’s that everyone else is projecting something I don’t have. Maybe it’s their doom lineage. After all, I came at doom metal backwards, from its modern experimental tangents. So for me, the more traditional it is, the less enjoyable I seem to find it.

Anyway, what I do like about Crippled Lucifer is that it’s obnoxiously loud, and reasonably slow. It’s got a warm sickly, grimy texture to it which is quite intoxicating. But on the other hand, the actual sound of it, the production, the mix, is kind of irritating. The tone of Edgy59’s voice, of Stephen O’Malley’s guitar, something about it turns me off. Now, I love my Sunn O))) type drone more than most, so this might sound a little crazy, but Burning Witch sounds way too repetitive to my ears. Maybe it’s a lack of variation, of subtlety, the simple riff-oriented nature of it, but honestly, it really does detract from my enjoyment of it.

For what it’s worth, I definitely prefer the Rift.Canyon.Dreams disc to Towers. The actual song Rift.Canyon.Dreams, is probably my favourite on the album, coming from a split record with Asva, and having a slightly different style and mix to it.

What I do like about this album there is certainly plenty of, it’s just that what I don’t like, there’s just as much of that too. I really have to meet Crippled Lucifer more than half-way, and that’s too far for me most days. Long story short, almost every time I listen to Crippled Lucifer, it makes me want to listen to Khanate‘s Things Viral instead. Everything I want to get out of Burning Witch and don’t, I do get out of that band, and that record. Make of that what you will.

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