Witching Hour is a German quartet which was spawned in 2006, and this is their second full-length album of blackened oldschool headbanging metal. In addition to the two albums, the band has released one demo and a split with Division Speed.

The eight brisk tunes mix together various styles of oldschool music, from heavy metal to speed metal and Motörhead-hailing rock'n'roll. The songs' backbone is mostly based on simplistic blackened thrashing, but the lighter heavy metal, raw rock and wild lead guitars and solos adopted from speed metal give the songs such an amount of movement and punch that their seemingly simple basis doesn't become a nuisance.

If you can see yourself banging your head to a blackened tribute-riffs to Iron Maiden, Motörhead and Venom played with authentic black thrash-sounds, it's likely you'll dig this album - after a few beers, at least. The oldschool-attack is topped with raw howls that are pretty monotonal for the major part, but occasionally get to surprise the listener with a twist, such as a high-pitch scream or the clean bit in the chorus of "Black Countess."

So, although the band handles the basis of their expression well and are capable with their instruments, the album feels a bit lacking. Oldschool metal has grown to be a boom, so a band has to have something special to stand out. Witching Hour's speciality is the range of their influences and their fast-paced speed metal-elements, but the disappointing fact is that they haven't yet forged all their strengths into a blend of their own. They deliver a lot of good moments, but in a manner that lacks personality. More lunatic energy and downright arrogance wouldn't hurt, but there's also a need for more cohesion and personality.

The album's simple black 'n' white design works well aside of the silly cover drawing, and all the lyrics are included in the booklet. The lyrics are a bit clumsily written bits of evil, sex, the devil and metal. Although they are far from surprising or enlightening, they do suit the music. Maybe this bit will reveal all the essential regarding them; "See the blackened sky / Dark Unholy Night / When the ravens fly / Hellish beast arise."

The compositions gave me a vibe of a capable band that's eager to play their music and improve in what they're doing, so I have good expectations for their future releases. As of now the band's a pleasing one, but despite all their zeal they're on the brink of falling in to the vast grey mass of oldschool metal bands.

7+ / 10