Thursday, February 25, 2016

Witch is the Heaviest of Them All? (Top 10 Witch Metal Bands)

Francisco Goya painted the best metal album covers of the 1700s

In keeping with the spirit of the brilliant folk-horror film The VVitch (now playing in theaters), I decided to dig into some of my favorite occult metal bands. Most of these hard rocking vagabonds are doom metallers; some are brutal purveyors of thrash; all incorporate "witch" in their name somehow. More importantly, they blend dark themes of witchcraft, alchemy and the occult perfectly into their music.


Witchfinder General are Black Sabbath clones, if Black Sabbath only played on sunny days. They mirror the godfathers of doom in almost every way, then add a quirky, almost upbeat quality to their music. Witchfinder General's complete dedication to their insanely specific schtick (witch trial metal!) is impressive. A lesser New Wave of British Heavy Metal band; their brand of doom is way more fun than it should be.


Witch Mountain weave occult ideas, fuzzy guitars and dramatic performances into one tight metal unit. Too many female fronted occult bands muddy the musical waters these days. What separates Witch Mountain from the rest are their ever-evolving sound; moving from St Vitus inspired metal to spacey psychedelia. Witch Mountain sound like a psychic seance summoning the gods of rock and roll.

Bell Witch reside on the dark side of metal. Menacing drone conjure evil beings, old forgotten pagan rituals, and seething emotions. Listening to Bell Witch is a commitment. Their extended blackened soundscapes capture you. They pull the listener into a bleak, but evocative headspace.

Witchfynde are another New Wave of British Heavy Metal band (but not the last on the list). They combine dirty AC/DC-style rock and roll and european prog rock to create their own special blend of anglo-metal. More overly satanic (in their imagery) than a lot of other NWOBHM bands; I'm sure Witchfynde upset their fair share of pudding eating British mums in the early 80s. But once you hear the vocals you'll realize that Witchfynde are as harmless as an intense D & D basement game (+2 Will Defense!).

Meet the new doom, same as the old doom. Witchcraft combine Sabbath riffs and Maynard James Keenan style vocals to create a modern take on classic 70s metal. Sometimes veering into aggro-rock territory, Witchcraft never shy away from emotion or outstanding production value, for better or worse. A kind of populist doom metal band, Witchcraft are definitely the future of the genre. When you start seeing Nickelback shirts at Royal Thunder shows you know the future is now, and the end is nigh.

Dirty, demented horror movie inspired raw power. Acid Witch are more abrasive than the bands mentioned above. The vocals pierce the Christian soul. Acid Witch are the soundtrack to an 80s VHS gorefest that never existed. Devilry, drug worship and spook show theatrics mix into a poisonous witch's brew.

Witch was a short-lived side project from Dinosaur Jr's J. Mascis, who played drums in the band. Witch was very different from Mascis' listless, alt-rock outfit. They were a thundering, fuzz driven rock and roll machine that still had enough blues riffs and swing to link them straight to Black Sabbath. Try listening to their song "Seer" and not throw your fists in the air and start head banging. Seriously try.

The classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal band takes all of the galloping energy of thrash and high flying guitar work of power metal and smashes them together into a thunder clap of 80s awesomeness. Angel Witch can be perfectly over-the-top one moment, and deadly serious the next. The band never made it to the level of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, but they definitely carved out their own niche.


Speed metal riffs and black metal vocals, Skeletonwitch delivers complete sonic insanity album after album. They are pure concentrate metal straight from the carton, distilled down to a fire breathing liquid of 100 proof bitter, powerful thrash.

The "be all/end all" of occult drenched doom. Burning Witch does not concern themselves with fuzz tones or blues riffs. Burning Witch's songs attack your soul, combining sludgy guitars, caustic vocals, and drums that sound like a church crumbling around you. Almost every song is 10 minutes long. They force you to follow them on their acerbic journey into darkness.

The End

The full Playlist

A photo of Tony Iommi teaching young metalheads to sell their souls to rock and roll


  1. Great list! I'd have probably had Bell Witch and Witchcraft a little higher but hey-ho! Also check out The Water Witch, a progressive black metal act from the UK which seems to be a side project of the guys from A Forest of Stars.

  2. Will do. Thanks for the recommendation.