Witch - Paralyzed [Tee Pee - 2008]Paralyzed is the second album by Witch, a band who have generated a little ink as a result of the occupant of their drum seat, J. Mascis. Of course J. is better known as the guitarist and lead singer of indie-legends Dinosaur Jr., but his influence doesn't appear to figure too deeply in Witch's sound, at least on the surface. Instead, these guys seem way more intent in resurrecting the beast of Uriah Heep or something.
Their last album, which admittedly, I haven't heard, was purported to sound like the heavier, primal side of metal, you know, Black Sabbath, the band that every heavy band is compared to. But this album is more on the tinny end of the spectrum, and it's for the most part sprightly and not plodding. The music, while not necessarily progressive, is riff based, and there's tons of guitar solos. That sounds like either a recipe for a good time, or something more akin to an unintentional Spinal Tap imitation, and, in reality, this is somewhere in between the two.
First, the good things; there's no hint of pretense in sight here. These dudes sound like they're having fun rocking out. The guitars are played with proficiency, aggression and enthusiasm, and the fuzz bass provides a decent anchor. Now for the less than good aspects; Despite the fact that Mascis has provided drums for a couple of bands besides Witch, his playing doesn't really cut it here. His blocky pummeling isn't a good match-up for the nimble guitar interplay.
The biggest problem with Paralyzed isn't chiefly related to musicianship. The songs add up to a lot of bluster, and little substance. Rock music is by nature shallow, and of course that's not always reason enough not to dismiss it. It's supposed to be benign escapism, and that's fine. But Paralyzed doesn't include many catchy hooks or intense choruses to pull you in. Such things are not important for those bands who avoid convention, but once you lock into a genre exercise, as Witch have, the songs have to grab you. Unfortunately, Paralyzed does that about half of the time. Erwin Michelfelder