“Good things come to those who wait” is the saying, and Witchery have gone ahead and reassured the heavy metal community that this is more than true with their long awaited release In His Infernal Majesty’s Service. With six years between albums, it’s fair to say that fans have been eagerly awaiting the Swedish blackened thrash band’s return, and oh how those fans have been rewarded.
Nothing quite matches up to blackened thrash; all the anger, guitar solos and “faster, faster!” attitude of thrash combined with the minimalist riffs, hate, and Satanic referencing of black metal. Witchery have been practising and perfecting this fine art since the band’s formation over twenty years ago, and In His Infernal Majesty’s Service shoves the band’s unholy music in your face and makes sure you know how far they’ve come. Since the last album, the band has had to unfortunately part ways with previous singer Emperor Magus Caligula and drummer Martin Axenrot for various reasons, but have found more than capable replacements in Angus Norder and Chris Barkensjö singing and drumming respectively.
In typical thrash fashion, the album is short, lasting just under 40 minutes, but don’t assume this is in any way a negative, because In His Infernal Majesty’s Service is exactly the opposite. From start to finish, the album is an assault on your eardrums in the best way possible, with Witchery’s fast and heavy sound erupting from the word go, which happens to be a long growl from Norder in “The Levay Anthem”, until the final note. The final track, “Oath Breaker”, may be one of the greatest on the album, with the band playing at maximum speed from the word go. An angelic choir overtake the band in the midst of the track, creating a melodic and almost peaceful sound, only to be silenced immediately by the sheer power and speed of Witchery. The track comes to an end as suddenly as they started. The whole album is full of evil tracks, with titles such as “The Burning of Salem”, “Empty Tombs”, and “Nosferatu”. And really, any album that has a track named after the greatest vampire of history is one you should probably listen to.
In His Majesty’s Infernal Service manages to show off the black metal roots of Witchery (because remember, they are Swedish, and the Swedes know how to do black metal), while boasting their thrash skills too, melding together to bring out an unholy, hard, and vicious sound. Certain tracks manage to encapsulate this perfectly like “Escape From Dunwitch Valley” which starts with a slow, funeral-style organ, as well as a female choir singing a wordless hymn, setting the horror atmosphere, before Barkensjö breaks in, hard and fast with a descending solo, and the thrashing capabilities of Whitchery are on full show. The perfect combo is continued throughout the album, with other tracks, like “In Warm Blood”, which has the slow, unmelodious guitar riffs from guitarist Jensen that are a staple of the genre, with Norder growling throughout, proving he is more than able to rock with a fast and angry guitar solo by lead guitarist Rikard Rimfält mid-song that would make Sepultura proud.
In His Majesty’s Infernal Service is a perfect way of showing exactly what Witchery is about; two heavy and contrasting genres brought together, to create something spectacular.
Check out the official music video for “Oath Breaker” to get you ready for the album’s release.