All Them Witches
Sleeping Through the War
All Them Witches’ Sleeping Through the War’s opening track begins with singular, hazy, guitar leads and closes with an intense kaleidoscopic jam all in about 6 and a half minutes. The band’s vocalist and bassist Charles Michael Parks, Jr. chants in anger and woe on the chorus of this track, “Cash in the broken hands / Pockets seen better scores / I built a house like this / I’m sleeping through the war.” Michael Parks Jr. says all of this in a serious tone to aggressively test his listener to find its meaning. It’s said with enough fury and hopelessness that it truly make the listener ponder what could make the band’s bassist-vocalist feel so scornful. “Bulls” is closed with a jam that lasts about 3 minutes that absolutely washes the track in fuzz bass, a killer lead guitar hook, and a powerful dignified drumming. If you like your rock scuzzy, psychedelic with Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers Band inspired jams, a dash of desert rock, all while sounding like Black Sabbath could have written it, Sleeping Through the War might be your album of the year.
Hailing from down south in Nashville, Tennessee, All Them Witches is a four-piece that describe their sound as “Heavy, heady, and hypnotic” on their Facebook page, and the band couldn’t describe themselves any better. Their influences are clearly from classic psych-rock bands like The Jimi Hendrix Experience and also old-school heavy metal acts like Deep Purple and Mountain. Listening to their music, you can hear these influences from the acid-soaked guitar tones to the furious drumming of their virtuoso drummer, Robby Staebler. If there is anything that I should stress more when describing this band, it would be to keep a close eye on the Nashville quartet’s absolute guitar maestro Ben McLeod. McLeod’s guitar playing easily stems from guitar hero influences Duane Allman and Jerry Garcia while still crafting tight hooks, creative pentatonic blues scale runs, engaging solos, and beautiful psychedelic guitar tones. The band released their third studio album Dying Surfer Meets Their Maker back in 2015 and have easily topped it with what is the strongest album of their career.
Glancing at the album’s tracklist, the record consists of a compact 8 songs with just over half of them going over 5 minutes. While some might consider these track times to be a tad long (the final track “Internet” clocks in at 9:50), it’s all okay at the end of the album because All Them Witches clearly uses their time wisely with great instrumental breaks, well-written verses and choruses, and an overall interesting experimentation throughout the whole album. While the band is in top-form with their neo-psychedelic sound, they don’t by any means, struggle lyrically. For example, the track “Alabaster” opens with appropriate hallucinatory imagery, narrating, “I grew up in a town dancing on the alabaster / Some days I’d burn it down / If I could buy the gasoline.” This kind of lucid wordsmithing is prevalent throughout the entire album to accompany all of All Them Witches’ perfected, heavy psychedelic sound. If you’re in need of being completely entranced and surrounded in the gorgeous sounds of a band on the top of their game in a new era of retro, psychedelic music, All Them Witches’ Sleeping Through the War may be your new obsession.
Check out the trippy video for Sleeping Through the War’s lead single, “Bruce Lee”